T and B Cell Subsets Differentially Correlate with Amyloid Deposition and Neurocognitive Function in Patients with Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment After One Year of Physical Activity


Individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) experience cognitive declines in learning and memory greater than expected for normal aging, and are at a high risk of dementia. We previously reported that sedentary aMCI patients exhibited neuroinflammation that correlated with brain amyloid beta (Aβ) burden, as determined by 18F-florbetapir positron emission tomography (PET). These aMCI patients enrolled in a one-year randomized control trial (AETMCI, NCT01146717) to test the beneficial effects of 12 months of moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise training (AET) or stretching/toning (ST) control intervention on neurocognitive function. A subset of aMCI participants had PET imaging, cognitive testing, and immunophenotyping of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and peripheral blood after AET or ST interventions. As adaptive immune responses were similar between AET and ST groups, we combined AET/ST into a general 'physical activity' (PA) group and compared Aβ burden, cognitive function, and adaptive immune cell subsets to sedentary lifestyle before intervention. We found that PAinduced immunomodulation of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in CSF correlated with changes in Aβ burden in brain regions associated with executive function. Furthermore, after PA, cognitive scores on tests of memory, processing speed, attention, verbal fluency, and executive function were associated with increased percent representation of circulating naïve B cells and CD8+ T cells. We review the literature on aMCI-related cognition and immune changes as they relate to exercise, and highlight how our preliminary data suggest a complex interplay between the adaptive immune system, physical activity, cognition, and Aβ burden in aMCI.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Exercise Immunology Review, v. 25.

Copyright © 2019 International Society of Exercise and Immunology. All rights reserved.

Funding Information

We thank the UT Southwestern Alzheimer’s Disease Center, the NIH/NIA (P30AG12300–21), the NIH/NIAID (T32AI005284–38), the UTSWMC flow cytometry core, and the CONQUER biorepository staff for technical support.