Epidemiological neuropathology: the MRC Cognitive Function and Aging Study experience

Stephen B Wharton, Carol Brayne, George M Savva, Fiona E Matthews, Gill Forster, Julie Simpson, Gemma Lace, Paul G Ince, Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study

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We here describe the study-design major findings from the neuropathological component of the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Aging Study (MRC CFAS). MRC CFAS is a population-representative study of aging and health including more than 18000 participants at baseline. More than 500 brain donations were accrued to date and have been subjected to comprehensive pathological assessment. This resource enables a thorough epidemiological description of the neuropathology associated with dementia in the UK. Results to date reveal a high prevalence of mixed Alzheimer and vascular pathology, a significant population who die with dementia but with a more limited pathological burden than is traditionally associated with dementia, and a group who die with a significant pathological burden yet remained cognitively intact until death. This dissociation between pathology and dementia increases with increasing age. Further studies have described the distribution and etiology of neurodegenerative disease in the population, and determined pathological correlates of cognitive impairment and dementia. Brain donation programs linked to epidemiological studies provide an invaluable resource for describing the pathological correlates of dementia in a way that is representative of the population, thereby identifying targets for and assessing the likely effect of therapeutic and preventive interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-72
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Biomedical Research
  • Brain
  • Cognition Disorders
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dementia
  • Disease Progression
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Statistics as Topic
  • alpha-Synuclein

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