A methodological approach to studying resilience mechanisms: demonstration of utility in age and Alzheimer's disease-related brain pathology.

Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Mainz, Untere Zahlbacher Str. 8, 55131, Mainz, Germany. [Email]

Abstract

The present work aims at providing a methodological approach for the investigation of resilience factors and mechanisms in normal aging, Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative disorders. By expanding and re-conceptualizing traditional regression approaches, we propose an approach that not only aims at identifying potential resilience factors but also allows for a differentiation between general and dynamic resilience factors in terms of their association with pathology. Dynamic resilience factors are characterized by an increasing relevance with increasing levels of pathology, while the relevance of general resilience factors is independent of the amount of pathology. Utility of the approach is demonstrated in age and AD-related brain pathology by investigating widely accepted resilience factors, including education and brain volume. Moreover, the approach is used to test hippocampal volume as potential resilience factor. Education and brain volume could be identified as general resilience factors against age and AD-related pathology. Beyond that, analyses highlighted that hippocampal volume may not only be disease target but also serve as a potential resilience factor in age and AD-related pathology, particularly at higher levels of tau-pathology (i.e. dynamic resilience factor). Given its unspecific and superordinate nature the approach is suitable for the investigation of a wide range of potential resilience factors in normal aging, AD and other neurodegenerative disorders. Consequently, it may find a wide application and thereby promote the comparability between studies.

Keywords

Alzheimer’s disease,Homeodynamics,Methodological approach,Mild cognitive impairment,Normal aging,Resilience mechanisms,

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