Physical activity and cognitive and imaging biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease in down syndrome

Victoria Fleming, Brianna Piro-Gambetti, Austin Patrick, Matthew Zammit, Andrew Alexander, Bradley T. Christian, Benjamin Handen, Annie Cohen, William Klunk, Charles Laymon, Beau M. Ances, David T. Plante, Ozioma Okonkwo, Sigan L. Hartley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adults with Down syndrome (DS) are at risk for Alzheimer's disease. Despite sharing trisomy 21, however, there is variability in the age of disease onset. This variability may mean that other factors, such as lifestyle, influence cognitive aging and disease timing. The present study assessed the association between everyday life physical activity using an actigraph accelerometer and cognitive functioning and early Alzheimer's disease pathology via positron emission tomography amyloid-β and tau and diffusion tension imaging measures of white matter integrity in 61 non-demented adults with DS. Percent time in sedentary behavior and in moderate-to-vigorous activity were associated (negatively and positively, respectively) with cognitive functioning (r = -.472 to.572, p < 0.05). Neither sedentary behavior nor moderate-to-vigorous activity were associated with amyloid-β or tau, but both were associated with white matter integrity in the superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculus (Fractional Anisotropy: r = -.397 to -.419, p < 0.05; Mean Diffusivity: r =.400, p < 0.05). Longitudinal studies are needed to determine if physical activity promotes healthy aging in DS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-127
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Biomarkers
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Down syndrome
  • Physical activity


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