Personality Associations With Amyloid and Tau: Results From the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging and Meta-analysis

Antonio Terracciano, Murat Bilgel, Damaris Aschwanden, Martina Luchetti, Yannick Stephan, Abhay R. Moghekar, Dean F. Wong, Luigi Ferrucci, Angelina R. Sutin, Susan M. Resnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Higher neuroticism and lower conscientiousness are risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, but the underlying neuropathological correlates remain unclear. Our aim was to examine whether personality traits are associated with amyloid and tau neuropathology in a new sample and meta-analyses. Methods: Participants from the BLSA (Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging) completed the Revised NEO Personality Inventory and underwent amyloid (11C-labeled Pittsburgh compound B) and tau (18F-flortaucipir) positron emission tomography. Results: Among cognitively normal BLSA participants, neuroticism was associated with higher cortical amyloid burden (odds ratio 1.68, 95% CI 1.20–2.34), and conscientiousness was associated with lower cortical amyloid burden (odds ratio 0.61, 95% CI 0.44–0.86). These associations remained significant after accounting for age, sex, education, depressive symptoms, hippocampal volume, and APOE ε4. Similar associations were found with tau in the entorhinal cortex. Random-effects meta-analyses of 12 studies found that higher neuroticism (N = 3015, r = 0.07, p =.008) and lower conscientiousness (N = 2990, r = −0.11, p <.001) were associated with more amyloid deposition. Meta-analyses of 8 studies found that higher neuroticism (N = 2231, r = 0.15, p <.001) and lower conscientiousness (N = 2206, r = −0.14, p <.001) were associated with more tau pathology. The associations were moderated by cognitive status, with stronger effects in cognitively normal compared with heterogeneous samples, suggesting that the associations between personality and proteopathies are not phenomena that emerge with neuropsychiatric clinical symptoms. Conclusions: By aggregating results across samples, this study advances knowledge on the association between personality and neuropathology. Neuroticism and conscientiousness may contribute to resistance against amyloid and tau neuropathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-369
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2022


  • Alzheimer disease
  • Amyloid
  • Meta-analysis
  • Neuropsychiatric disorders
  • Personality
  • Tau


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