Cortical thickness is considered a potentially relevant marker for neurodegenerative diseases. However, the relationship of demographic and vascular risk factors with cortical thickness remains unclear. In a population-based sample of 1022 non-demented elderly persons (mean age 68.4 ± 7.3 years), we examined aging effects on global and lobar cortical thickness and the relationship with demographic variables and cardiovascular risk factors. We used a validated model-based approach to calculate mean cortical thickness (μm) in brain MR-images. We found that women had a significant thicker cortex than men (p< 0.01). Further, with increasing age, cortical thickness decreased (approximately 0.2% per year), with the largest age effects for the occipital and temporal lobes, and the decrease in the frontal lobe being more apparent in men than in women (p-interaction < 0.001). Additionally, higher education, higher diastolic blood pressure and larger intra-cranial volume were related to a larger cortical thickness, whilst diabetes mellitus and higher HDL cholesterol levels were related to a thinner cortex.

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Neuroscience Letters
Department of Medical Informatics

van Velsen, E.F.S, Vernooij, M.W, Vrooman, H.A, van der Lugt, A, Breteler, M.M.B, Hofman, A, … Ikram, M.K. (2013). Brain cortical thickness in the general elderly population: The Rotterdam Scan Study. Neuroscience Letters, 550, 189–194. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2013.06.063