Cardiorespiratory Fitness May Improve Executive Function in Mild Cognitive Impairment

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The diffusion tensor imaging metrics correlated with VO<sub>2</sub>max with executive function performance in mild cognitive impairment.
The diffusion tensor imaging metrics correlated with VO2max with executive function performance in mild cognitive impairment.

HealthDay News — Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is associated with better white matter (WM) fiber integrity in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), according to a study published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Kan Ding, MD, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues examined the correlations of CRF measured by maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) with WM fiber integrity and neurocognitive performance. The correlation was assessed in 81 participants (age, 65±7), including 26 cognitively normal adults and 55 patients with amnestic MCI.

The researchers observed no difference in global WM fiber integrity and VO2max for cognitively normal older adults and MCI patients. There was a positive correlation for VO2max with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) metrics of fractional anisotropy in about 54% of WM fiber tracts, and a negative correlation with mean and radial diffusivities in about 46% and about 56%, respectively, of the WM fiber tracts. After adjustment for age, sex, body mass index, WM lesion burden, and MCI status, the correlations of VO2max with DTI metrics remained significant. In MCI patients, the DTI metrics obtained from the area that correlated with VO2max correlated with executive function performance.

"Higher levels of CRF are associated with better WM fiber integrity, which in turn is correlated with better executive function performance in MCI patients," the researchers wrote.


Ding K, Tarumi T, Zhu DC, et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness and white matter neuronal fiber integrity in mild cognitive impairment. J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;61(2):729-739. doi:10.3233/JAD-170415

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