The brain in kidney disease (BRINK) cohort study: Design and baseline cognitive function

Anne M. Murray, Elizabeth J. Bell, David E. Tupper, Cynthia S. Davey, Sarah L. Pederson, Elizabeth M. Amiot, Kathleen M. Miley, Lauren McPherson, Brooke M. Heubner, David T. Gilbertson, Robert N. Foley, Paul E. Drawz, Yelena Slinin, Rebecca C. Rossom, Kamakshi Lakshminarayan, Prashanthi Vemuri, Clifford R. Jack, David S. Knopman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background The Brain in Kidney Disease (BRINK) Study aims to identify mechanisms that contribute to increased risk for cognitive impairment in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). We describe the rationale, design, and methods of the study and report baseline recruitment and cognitive function results. Study Design Longitudinal observational cohort study of the epidemiology of cognitive impairment in CKD. The primary aim is to characterize the association between (1) baseline and incident stroke, white matter disease, estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), inflammation, microalbuminuria, and dialysis initiation and (2) cognitive decline over 3 years in a CKD cohort with a mean eGFR < 45 mL/min/1.73 m2. Setting & Participants Community-dwelling participants 45 years or older recruited from 4 health systems into 2 groups: reduced eGFR, defined as eGFR < 60 mL/min/1.73 m2 (non-dialysis dependent), and control, defined as eGFR ≥ 60 mL/min/1.73 m2. Predictor eGFR group. Outcomes Performance on cognitive function tests and structural brain magnetic resonance imaging. Measurements Sequential cognitive and physical function testing, serum and urine biomarker measurement, and brain magnetic resonance images over 3 years. Results Of 554 participants, mean age was 69.3 years; 333, 88, and 133 had eGFRs < 45 (non-dialysis dependent, nontransplantation), 45 to <60, and ≥60 (controls) mL/min/1.73 m2, respectively. Mean eGFR in reduced-eGFR participants was 34.3 mL/min/1.73 m2. Baseline cognitive performance was significantly associated with eGFR in all domains except language. Participants with eGFRs < 30 mL/min/1.73 m2 performed significantly worse than those with eGFRs ≥ 30 mL/min/1.73 m2 on tests of memory, processing speed, and executive function. Participants with reduced eGFRs overall scored worst on the Immediate Brief Visual-Spatial Memory Test-Revised. Limitations Healthy cohort bias, competing risk for death versus cognitive decline. Conclusions Cognitive function was significantly worse in participants with eGFRs < 30 mL/min/1.73 m2. Future BRINK analyses will measure risk factors for cognitive decline using the longitudinal data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-600
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Cognitive impairment
  • attention
  • brain aging
  • chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR)
  • executive function
  • language
  • memory
  • neuropsychological testing
  • processing speed
  • renal function
  • stroke
  • structural brain magnetic resonance imaging
  • study design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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