Association between Renal Function and Cognitive Ability Domains in the Einstein Aging Study: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

Andrea R. Zammit, Mindy J. Katz, Jennifer Y. Lai, Molly E. Zimmerman, Markus Bitzer, Richard B. Lipton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background. The relationships between renal function and specific domains of cognitive function have rarely been explored in representative, community-based samples of older adults. We assessed the association between renal and cognitive function based on an extensive battery of neurocognitive tests. Methods. In a sample of Einstein Aging Study participants (n = 649, age = 70+ years) we calculated estimated glomerular filtration rate (EGFR) using the Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration formula. We predefined three groups based on EGFR units of mL/min/1.73 m2 as low (<45), medium (45.59), and high (.60). Thirteen neurocognitive tests were subjected to principle component analysis revealing three components: a global component, an episodic memory component, and a frontal-executive component. We first examined the relationship of EGFR group to cognitive performance in each domain and then examined subtests for the domains which proved to be statistically significant. Results. The sample (mean = 79.2, 61% = female) was distributed among EGFR categories as follows: low (n = 67), medium (n = 151), and high (n = 431). The frontal-executive domain was significantly associated with poor cognitive performance in the low EGFR group (p <.001). When we examined the neuropsychological test components for frontal-executive domain, performance was lower on two of four contributing tests (Trail Making Test Part B and the Digit Symbol Substitution test). Other domains of cognitive function were not associated with EGFR. Conclusions. Low EGFR is associated with reduced performance on executive function. Individuals with poor renal function should be assessed for cognitive impairment. Potential mechanisms are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764-770
Number of pages7
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2015


  • Cognition
  • Executive function
  • Renal function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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