International Psychogeriatrics

Research Article

The Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle (AIBL) study of aging: methodology and baseline characteristics of 1112 individuals recruited for a longitudinal study of Alzheimer's disease

Kathryn A Ellisa1a2a14 c1, Ashley I Busha2a3, David Darbya4a5, Daniela De Fazioa2, Jonathan Fostera6a7a8, Peter Hudsona9, Nicola T. Lautenschlagera1a10, Nat Lenzoa6a7, Ralph N. Martinsa6a7, Paul Maruffa4a5, Colin Mastersa2a5, Andrew Milnera11, Kerryn Pikea2a12, Christopher Rowea12, Greg Savagea13, Cassandra Szoekea9a14, Kevin Taddeia6a7, Victor Villemagnea12, Michael Woodwarda12, David Amesa1a14 and the AIBL Research Groupa15

a1 Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age, Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, St. Vincent's Aged Psychiatry Service, St George's Hospital, Victoria Australia

a2 Mental Health Research Institute, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

a3 Department of Pathology, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

a4 CogState Ltd, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

a5 Centre for Neuroscience, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

a6 Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer's Disease Research & Care, School of Exercise Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia

a7 Sir James McCusker Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit (Hollywood Private Hospital), Perth, Western Australia, Australia

a8 Neurosciences Unit, Health Department of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

a9 CSIRO, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

a10 School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences and WA Centre for Health and Ageing, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

a11 Neurosciences Australia, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

a12 Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

a13 Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia

a14 National Ageing Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

a15 See Appendix 1


Background: The Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle (AIBL) flagship study of aging aimed to recruit 1000 individuals aged over 60 to assist with prospective research into Alzheimer's disease (AD). This paper describes the recruitment of the cohort and gives information about the study methodology, baseline demography, diagnoses, medical comorbidities, medication use, and cognitive function of the participants.

Methods: Volunteers underwent a screening interview, had comprehensive cognitive testing, gave 80 ml of blood, and completed health and lifestyle questionnaires. One quarter of the sample also underwent amyloid PET brain imaging with Pittsburgh compound B (PiB PET) and MRI brain imaging, and a subgroup of 10% had ActiGraph activity monitoring and body composition scanning.

Results: A total of 1166 volunteers were recruited, 54 of whom were excluded from further study due to comorbid disorders which could affect cognition or because of withdrawal of consent. Participants with AD (211) had neuropsychological profiles which were consistent with AD, and were more impaired than participants with mild cognitive impairment (133) or healthy controls (768), who performed within expected norms for age on neuropsychological testing. PiB PET scans were performed on 287 participants, 100 had DEXA scans and 91 participated in ActiGraph monitoring.

Conclusion: The participants comprising the AIBL cohort represent a group of highly motivated and well-characterized individuals who represent a unique resource for the study of AD. They will be reassessed at 18-month intervals in order to determine the predictive utility of various biomarkers, cognitive parameters and lifestyle factors as indicators of AD, and as predictors of future cognitive decline.

(Received March 02 2009)

(Revised April 06 2009)

(Revised April 24 2009)

(Accepted April 28 2009)

(Online publication May 27 2009)


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Kathryn A. Ellis, Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, St. Vincent's Aged Psychiatry Service, St George's Hospital Campus, 283 Cotham Rd, Kew, Victoria 3101, Australia. Phone: +61 3 9389 2919; Fax +61 3 9816 0477. Email: