Factors influencing change in brain-predicted age difference in a cohort of healthy older individuals

Jo Wrigglesworth, Ian H. Harding, Phillip Ward, Robyn L. Woods, Elsdon Storey, Bernadette Fitzgibbon, Gary Egan, Anne Murray, Raj C. Shah, Ruth E. Trevaks, Stephanie Ward, John J. Mcneil, Joanne Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is considerable variability in the rate at which we age biologically, and the brain is particularly susceptible to the effects of aging. Objective: We examined the test-retest reliability of brain age at one- and three-year intervals and identified characteristics that predict the longitudinal change in brain-predicted age difference (brain-PAD, defined by deviations of brain age from chronological age). Methods: T1-weighted magnetic resonance images were acquired at three timepoints from 497 community-dwelling adults (73.8±3.5 years at baseline, 48% were female). Brain age was estimated from whole brain volume, using a publicly available algorithm trained on an independent dataset. Linear mixed models were used, adjusting for sex, age, and age2. Results: Excellent retest reliability of brain age was observed over one and three years. We identified a significant sex difference in brain-PAD, where a faster rate of brain aging (worsening in brain age relative to chronological age) was observed in men, and this finding replicated in secondary analyses. The effect size, however, was relatively weak, equivalent to 0.16 years difference per year. A higher score in physical health related quality of life and verbal fluency were associated with a faster rate of brain aging, while depression was linked to a slower rate of brain aging, but these findings were not robust. Conclusion: Our study provides consistent evidence that older men have slightly faster brain atrophy than women. Given the sparsity of longitudinal research on brain age in older populations, future prospective studies are needed to confirm our findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-176
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Aging
  • biomarkers
  • cognition
  • depression
  • health status
  • neuroimaging
  • physical fitness
  • quality of life
  • sex
  • social class

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