BACKGROUND: GDF15 (growth differentiation factor 15) and NT-proBNP (N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide) may offer promise as biomarkers for cognitive outcomes, including dementia. We determined the association of these biomarkers with cognitive outcomes in a community-based cohort. METHODS AND RESULTS: Plasma GDF15 (n=1603) and NT-proBNP levels (n=1590) (53% women; mean age, 68.7 years) were measured in dementia-free Framingham Offspring cohort participants at examination 7 (1998–2001). Participants were followed up for incident dementia. Secondary outcomes included Alzheimer disease dementia, magnetic resonance imaging structural brain measures, and neurocognitive performance. During a median 11.8-year follow-up, 131 participants developed dementia. On multivariable Cox proportional-hazards analysis, higher circulating GDF15 was associated with an increased risk of incident all-cause and Alzheimer disease dementia (hazard ratio [HR] per SD increment in natural log-transformed biomarker value, 1.54 [95% CI, 1.22–1.95] and 1.37 [95% CI, 1.03–1.81], respectively), whereas higher plasma NT-proBNP was also associated with an increased risk of all-cause dementia (HR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.05–1.65). Elevated GDF15 was associated with lower total brain and hippocampal volumes, greater white matter hyperintensity volume, and poorer cognitive performance. Elevated NT-proBNP was associated with greater white matter hyperintensity volume and poorer cognitive performance. Addition of both biomarkers to a conventional risk factor model improved dementia risk classification (net reclassification improvement index, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.05–0.45). CONCLUSIONS: Elevated plasma GDF15 and NT-proBNP were associated with vascular brain injury on magnetic resonance imaging, poorer neurocognitive performance, and increased risk of incident dementia in individuals aged >60 years. Both biomarkers improved dementia risk classification beyond that of traditional clinical risk factors, indicating their potential value in predicting incident dementia.
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