Clinically Relevant Changes for Cognitive Outcomes in Preclinical and Prodromal Cognitive Stages: Implications for Clinical Alzheimer Trials

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Background and ObjectivesIdentifying a clinically meaningful change in cognitive test score is essential when using cognition as an outcome in clinical trials. This is especially relevant because clinical trials increasingly feature novel composites of cognitive tests. Our primary objective was to establish minimal clinically important differences (MCIDs) for commonly used cognitive tests, using anchor-based and distribution-based methods, and our secondary objective was to investigate a composite cognitive measure that best predicts a minimal change in the Clinical Dementia Rating - Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB).MethodsFrom the Swedish BioFINDER cohort study, we consecutively included cognitively unimpaired (CU) individuals with and without subjective or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). We calculated MCIDs associated with a change of ≥0.5 or ≥1.0 on CDR-SB for Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), ADAS-Cog delayed recall 10-word list, Stroop, Letter S Fluency, Animal Fluency, Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) and Trailmaking Test (TMT) A and B, and triangulated MCIDs for clinical use for CU, MCI, and amyloid-positive CU participants. For investigating cognitive measures that best predict a change in CDR-SB of ≥0.5 or ≥1.0 point, we conducted receiver operating characteristic analyses.ResultsOur study included 451 cognitively unimpaired individuals, 90 with subjective cognitive decline and 361 without symptoms of cognitive decline (pooled mean follow-up time 32.4 months, SD 26.8, range 12-96 months), and 292 people with MCI (pooled mean follow-up time 19.2 months, SD 19.0, range 12-72 months). We identified potential triangulated MCIDs (cognitively unimpaired; MCI) on a range of cognitive test outcomes: MMSE -1.5, -1.7; ADAS delayed recall 1.4, 1.1; Stroop 5.5, 9.3; Animal Fluency: -2.8, -2.9; Letter S Fluency -2.9, -1.8; SDMT: -3.5, -3.8; TMT A 11.7, 13.0; and TMT B 24.4, 20.1. For amyloid-positive CU, we found the best predicting composite cognitive measure included gender and changes in ADAS delayed recall, MMSE, SDMT, and TMT B. This produced an AUC of 0.87 (95% CI 0.79-0.94, sensitivity 75%, specificity 88%).DiscussionOur MCIDs may be applied in clinical practice or clinical trials for identifying whether a clinically relevant change has occurred. The composite measure can be useful as a clinically relevant cognitive test outcome in preclinical AD trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1142-E1153
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Sept 13

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurology


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