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Cognitive Health of Nonagenarians in Southern Italy: A Descriptive Analysis from a Cross-Sectional, Home-Based Pilot Study of Exceptional Longevity (Cilento Initiative on Aging Outcomes Or CIAO).

  • Author(s): Pizza, Vincenzo;
  • Antonini, Paola;
  • Marino, Rosella;
  • D'Arena, Giovanni;
  • Lucibello, Serena Grazia;
  • Rizzo, Marianna;
  • Brenner, David A;
  • Jeste, Dilip V;
  • Somma, Salvatore Di
  • et al.

Background: Nonagenarians and centenarians (NCs) are an extremely fragile population, particularly in regard to their physical and cognitive function. The aim of this study was to define the neurocognitive profiles among 29 NCs and their 49 younger cohabitants aged 50-75 years from The Cilento Initiative on Aging Outcomes (CIAO) Pilot study in the South of Italy that had provided initial hypotheses regarding positive psychological traits related to exceptional longevity. Methods: During the home visits, lifestyle information with specific questionnaires, functional autonomy and the neuropsychological Mini Mental Scale Examination (MMSE), and the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive (ADAS-Cog) scale were obtained by qualified study personnel. The total blood oxidative capacity was also determined by testing the reactive derivative of oxygen metabolites (d-ROM) and by the Biological Antioxidant Potential (BAP). In all individuals, the APOE genotype determination was also performed. Results: All the subjects in both groups showed high adherence to the Mediterranean Diet. None of the NCs had severe cognitive impairment, and a very low incidence of dementia was found. The data obtained on the Activities ed Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (ADL-IADL) scale showed that the majority of NCs (16/29) were autonomous in daily life activities. The comparative assessment of NCs and cohabitants showed no significant differences in the laboratory assessment of oxidative stress and APOE genotype. Conclusion: In the Cilento Region of Southern Italy, NCs seemed to have good cognitive status when compared to younger cohabitants aging 50-65 years without significant differences in oxidative stress markers or APOE genotype. These results might be related to optimal adherence to the Mediterranean diet, although other lifestyle factors and positive personality traits may also contribute to their healthy aging. Further studies on a larger population should be performed to confirm the results of this pilot study.

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