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Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences



Abnormal beta-amyloid (Aβ) is associated with deleterious changes in central cholinergic tone in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which may be unmasked by a cholinergic antagonist (J Prev Alzheimers Dis 1:1–4, 2017). Previously, we established the scopolamine challenge test (SCT) as a “cognitive stress test” screening measure to identify individuals at risk for AD (Alzheimer’s & Dementia 10(2):262–7, 2014) (Neurobiol. Aging 36(10):2709-15, 2015). Here we aim to demonstrate the potential of the SCT as an indicator of cognitive change and neocortical amyloid aggregation after a 27-month follow-up interval.


Older adults (N = 63, aged 55–75 years) with self-reported memory difficulties and first-degree family history of AD completed the SCT and PET amyloid imaging at baseline and were then seen for cognitive testing at 9, 18, and 27 months post-baseline. Repeat PET amyloid imaging was completed at the time of the 27-month exam.


Significant differences in both cognitive performance and in Aβ neocortical burden were observed between participants who either failed vs. passed the SCT at baseline, after a 27-month follow-up period.


Cognitive response to the SCT (Alzheimer’s & Dementia 10(2):262–7, 2014) at baseline is related to cognitive change and PET amyloid imaging results, over the course of 27 months, in preclinical AD. The SCT may be a clinically useful screening tool to identify individuals who are more likely to both have positive evidence of amyloidosis on PET imaging and to show measurable cognitive decline over several years.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.