Both comparative and single-race studies suggest that Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) are becoming as prevalent among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) as they are in the all-races population with the reduction in life expectancy disparities experienced by AI/ANs. However, most of the small amount of work in this area was conducted in rural or reservation settings, even though over 70% of AI/ANs reside in urban areas. This study will address the epidemiology of ADRD in urban AI/AN elders aged 55 and older and examine how mechanisms related to vascular brain injury may contribute to ADRD pathology with advanced imaging techniques and neurocognitive assessments, establishing a baseline cohort of urban elders for future longitudinal study.

We aim to:

  1. Quantify the prevalence of probable ADRD and VBI as defined by brain MRI and determine their associations with cognitive functioning in a diverse sample of urban AI/AN elders.
  2. Evaluate associations between conventional risk factors and probable ADRD and evaluate potential mediation of selected risk factors by VBI.
  3. In an exploratory analysis, evaluate potential differences in our primary associations by sex, and then evaluate education and access to healthcare as potential protective factors for cognitive impairment and probable ADRD in elders with VBI.

Funding Agency: National Institute of Health
Project Name: URBAn Native Elders (URBANE): Risk and Protective Factors for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias (1R01AG064493-01)

Project Years: 2019-2024
Partners: University of Washington, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, MedStar Health Research Institute, and South Central Foundation
Principal Investigator: Lonnie Nelson, PhD.