Objectives: Observational and experimental studies suggest that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may protect against Alzheimer disease (AD); however, clinical trials and other observational studies, including the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study, show no protection or promotion of AD. The objective of this study is to determine the relationship between common dementia-associated pathologies and mid- to late-life NSAID exposure.
Methods: We examined the association of mid- to late-life NSAID use with neuropathologic findings on 257 autopsies from ACT, a population-based study of brain aging and incident dementia. Cumulative standard daily doses (SDD) of nonselective NSAIDs were determined from >/=10 years of computerized pharmacy dispensing data. Analyses were adjusted for selection bias to broaden generalizability of results to 3,026 eligible participants in the ACT cohort. Seven pathologic indices were evaluated: intermediate or frequent score for neuritic plaques, Braak stages V or VI for neurofibrillary tangles, > 2 cerebral microinfarcts, the presence of any neocortical Lewy bodies, any macroscopic infarcts, any amyloid angiopathy, and moderate or severe atherosclerosis.
Results: Of the neuropathologic indices evaluated, only neuritic plaque score was significantly increased in participants with greater use of nonselective NSAIDs (p= 0.065), specifically in those with high levels of cumulative use: 1,000-2,000 SDD (adjusted relative risk [RR] 2.16, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02-4.25, compared to light/nonuse [2,000 SDD (adjusted RR 2.37, 95% CI 1.24-4.67).
Conclusions: Increased neuritic plaque accumulation may explain the association between heavy use of nonselective NSAIDs and increased risk of dementia among ACT participants. Neurology® 2010;75:1203-1210