Baseline infection burden and cognitive function in elders with essential tremor

Daniella Iglesias-Hernandez, Silvia Chapman, Keith Radler, Hollie Dowd, Edward D. Huey, Stephanie Cosentino, Elan D. Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Patients with essential tremor (ET) have an increased risk of cognitive impairment, yet little is known about the predictors of cognitive decline in these patients. Exposures to infectious agents throughout the lifespan may impact the later development of cognitive impairment. For example, high Infection exposure has been associated with lower cognitive performance in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. However, this predictor has not been examined in ET. Objectives: To determine whether a higher baseline infection burden is associated with worse cognitive performance at baseline and greater cognitive decline over time in an ET cohort. Method/Design: 160 elderly non-demented ET participants (80.0 ± 9.5 years) underwent an extensive cognitive evaluation at three time points. At baseline, participants completed an infection burden questionnaire (t-IBQ) that elicited information on previous exposure to infectious agents and number of episodes per disease. Analysis of covariance and generalized estimated equations (GEEs) were used. Results: Overall, infection burden was not associated baseline cognitive performance. Adjusted GEE models for repeated measures yielded a significant time interaction between moderate infection burden at baseline and better performance in the attention domain over time (p = 0.013). Previous history of rubella was associated with faster rate of decline in visuospatial performance (p = 0.046). Conclusion: The data were mixed. Moderate self-reported infection burden was associated with better attention performance over time. Self-reported history of rubella infection was related to lower visuospatial performance over time in this cohort. Follow-up studies with additional design elements would be of value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalTremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements
StatePublished - 2021


  • Clinical
  • Epidemiology
  • Essential tremor
  • Infection burden
  • Risk factors
  • Self-reported questionnaires

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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