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Deborah Gustafson, MS, PhD

Professor of Neurology

Director, NeuroEpidemiology Program

Guest researcher, Neuropsychiatric Eidemiology Research Unit (EPINEP), University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Visiting professor, Department of Health and Education, University of Skövde, Sweden

Background and Expertise:

I am a Swedish Research Council Senior Researcher in Psychiatric Epidemiology, and I coordinate a Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology and Genetics research group in Sweden. I was the first to report on a relationship between overweight and risk of Alzheimer's disease in 2003 based on population-based studies in Sweden. I continue to explore adiposity, as well as vascular and metabolic factors, in relationship to neuropsychiatric disorders and age-related brain changes, with an evolving focus on underrepresented populations. I am a member of several collaborative research groups in the US, Europe, and South America with this focus. For example, I am a Work Package Leader for the multi-national and translational European Union project, Lipididiet, which investigates omega-3 fatty acids, cholesterol, and adiposity in cerebrovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Adipose tissue hormones in relationship to dementia and cognition are a theme of my research, and I have obtained funding from multiple sources to investigate this hypothesis in populations of Swedish elderly, women with HIV/AIDS (WIHS), and individuals with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (ACCORD/MIND). Funding for these analyses comes from the Swedish Brain Power Project, NIH/NIAID, and NIH/NIA. Also, I am PI of an NIH/NARCH pilot project, the Heart Mind Study, in Southwest tribes (New Mexico), which assesses cardiovascular factors in cognitive and depressive disorders. Through collaborations in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Treviso, Italy, similar initiatives are pursued. I have over 70 peer-reviewed or invited publications, and I am an invited speaker at international meetings on the topics of adiposity, vascular factors, and prevention of dementia and other psychiatric disorders in the elderly. In 2009, I was elected to the Executive Committee of the International Society for Vascular and Cognitive Impairment (Vas-Cog), co-founded the Women in Dementia Research group within Vas-Cog, and am an Invited delegate and speaker to the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics, World Health Organization and Société Francaise de Gériatrie et de Gérontologie workshop entitled, ‘Health promotion program on prevention of late onset dementia’ in Geneva in 2011. I received my educational training from the University of Minnesota, USA, and held an NIH postdoctoral fellowship.

Some relevant websites:
  • Gudmundsson, P, Andersson S, Gustafson D, Waern M, Östling S, Hällström T, Palsson S, Skoog I, Hulthen L. Depression in Swedish women: Relationship to factors at birth. Eur J Epidemiology, in press.
  • Sigström R, Östling S, Karlsson B, Waern M, Gustafson D, Skoog I. A population-based study on phobic fears and DSM-IV specific phobia in 70-year olds. J Anxiety Disorders, in press. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Olesen PJ, Gustafson DR, Simoni M, Pantoni L, Östling S, Guo X, Skoog I. Temporal lobe atrophy and white matter lesions are related to major depression over 5 years in the elderly. Neuropsychopharm, in press.
  • Quinlan P, Nordlund A, Lind K, Gustafson D, Edman Å, Wallin A.Thyroid hormones are associated with poorer cognition in MCI. Dem Ger Cog Dis, in press.
  • Mielke MM, Zandi PP, Shao H, Waern M, Östling S, Guo X, Björkelund C, Lissner L, Skoog I, Gustafson DR. The 32 year relationship between cholesterol and dementia from mid- to latelife. Neurology, in press.
  • Daborg J, Nilsson S, Sjölander A, Minthon L, von Otter M, Gustafson D, Skoog I, Blennow K, Zetterberg H. Association of the RAGE G82Spolymorphism with Alzheimer’s disease. J NeuralTrans, in press.
  • Ongaro F, Meggiolaro S, Antunono P, Gustafson D, Forloni GL, Albani D, Gajo GB, De Angeli S, Zanardo A Siculi M, Siculi G, Muffato G, Gava N, Regini C. Factors related to disability: Evidence from the “Treviso Longeva (TRELONG) Study. Arch Gerontol Geriatr, 2010 Jun 8. [Epub ahead of print].
  • Sacuiu S, Gustafson D, Sjögren M, Guo X, Östling S, Johansson B, Skoog I. Secular changes in cognitive predictors of dementia and mortality in 70-year-olds, Neurology, in press.
  • Östling S, Gustafson D, Börjesson-Hanson A, Waern M. Psychotic symptoms in a population based sample of 85-year-olds with dementia. J Geriatric Psych Neurol, in press.
  • Hanson A, Waern M, Gustafson D, Östling S, Skoog I. Prevalence of mental disorders in a population sample of 95-year-olds. Am J Geriatric Psychiatry, in press.
  • Guerreiro R, Gustafson D, Hardy J. The genetic architecture of Alzheimer's disease: Beyond APP, PSENs, and APOE. Neurobiol Aging, PMID: 20594621, in press.
  • Johansson L, Waern M, Gustafson D, Östling S, Bengtsson C, Guo X, Skoog I. Mid-life stress and risk of dementia: a 35-year longitudinal population study. Brain, 2010; doi:10.1093/brain/awq116.
  • von Otter M, Landgren S, Nilsson S, Zetterberg M, Celojevic D1, Bergström P, Minthon L, Bogdanovic N, Andreasen N, Gustafson DR, Skoog I, Wallin A, Tasa G, Blennow K, Nilsson M, Hammarsten O, Zetterberg H. Nrf2-encoding NFE2L2 haplotypes influence disease progression but not risk in Alzheimer's disease and age-related cataract. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, in press.
  • von Otter M, Landgren S, Nilsson S, Lundvall C, Minthon L, Bogdanovic N, Andreasen N, Gustafson DR, Skoog I, Wallin A, Håkansson A, Nissbrandt H, Zetterberg M, Tasa G, Blennow K, Zetterberg H. Kinesin light chain 1 gene haplotypes in three conformational diseases. Neuromol Med, in press.
  • Jedel E, Waern M, Gustafson D, Landén M, Eriksson E, Holm G, Nilsson L, Lind, A.-K., Janson PO, Stener-Victorin E. Anxiety and depression symptoms in women with polycystic ovary syndrome compared with controls matched for body mass index. Hum Repro, in press.
  • Guo X, Pantoni L, Simoni M, Gustafson D, Lissner L, Björkelund C, Bengtsson C, Skoog I. Blood pressure components and changes in relation to white matter lesions: A 32-year prospective population study. Hypertension, in press.
  • Östling S, Gustafson D, Waern M. Psychotic and behavioural symptoms in a population-based sample of very elderly subjects. Acta Psychiatr Scand, in press.
  • Zylberstein DE, Lissner L, Björkelund C, Mehlig K, Thelle DS, Gustafson D, Östling S, Waern M, Guo X, Skoog I. Midlife Homocysteine and Late-life Dementia. A 35 year follow-up of the Prospective Population Study of Women in Gothenburg, Neurobiol Aging, in press.
  • Sigström R, Skoog I, Sacuiu S, Karlsson B, Fredén Klenfeldt I, Waern M, Gustafson D, Östling S. The prevalence of psychotic symptoms and paranoid ideation in a non-demented population sample of 70- 82 year olds. Int J Ger Psychiatry, in press.
  • Gudmundsson P, Skoog I, Waern M, Blennow K, Zetterberg H, Rosengren L, Gustafson D. Is there a CSF biomarker profile related to depression in elderly women? Psych Res, in press.
  • Sacuiu S, Gustafson D, Johansson, B, Thorvaldsson V, Berg S, Sjögren, M, Guo X, Östling S, Skoog, I. The pattern of cognitive symptoms predicts time to dementia onset. Alz Dementia, in press.
  • Gustafson DR, Melchior L, Eriksson E, Sundh V, Blennow K, Skoog I. The ACE Insertion Deletion polymorphism relates to dementia by metabolic phenotype, APOE_4, and age of dementia onset. Neurobiol Aging, 2010;31:910-6.
  • Gustafson DR, Bäckman K, Waern M, Östling S, Guo X, Zandi P, Mielke MM, Bengtsson C, Skoog I. Adiposity indicators and dementia over 32 years in Sweden. Neurology, 2009;73: 1559.
  • Karlsson B, Fredén Klenfeldt I, Sigström R, Waern M, Östling S, Gustafson D, Skoog I. Prevalence of social phobia in non-demented elderly. A population study from Gothenburg, Sweden. Am J Ger Psychiatry, 2009;17:127-35.
  • Beckman N, Waern M, Gustafson D, Skoog I. Sex at seventy: Secular trends in sexual behaviour in 70-year-olds in 1971 and 2001. The H70 Birth Cohort Study in Gothenburg, Sweden. Br Med J, 2008;337:a279.
  • Simoni S, Pantoni L, Pracucci G, Palmertz B, Guo X, Gustafson D, Skoog I. Prevalence of CT detected cerebral changes in an elderly population of Gothenburg, Sweden. Acta Neurol Scand,2008;118:260-7.
  • Whitmer R, Gustafson D, Barrett-Connor E, Haan M, Gunderson E, Yaffee K. Central obesity in midlife and risk of dementia more than 2 decades later. Neurology, 2008, 71:1057-64.
  • Mehlig K, Guo X, Gustafson D, Östling S, Waern M, Skoog I, Lissner L. Alcohol intake and dementia. Am J Epidemiol, 2008;167: 684-691.
  • Zetterberg M, Landgren S, Andersson ME, Palmér MS, Gustafson DR, Skoog I, Minthon L, Thelle DS, Wallin A, Bogdanovic N, Andreasen N, Blennow K, Zetterberg H. Association of complement factor H Y402H gene polymorphism with Alzheimer’s disease, Am J Med Genetics, 2008;147B:720-6.
  • Wong SS, Boushey C, Novotny R, Gustafson D. Evaluation of an computerized food frequency questionnaire that estimates calcium intakes of multiethnic youth. J Amer Diet Assoc, 2008; 71:416-419.
  • Gustafson DR, Karlsson C, Skoog I, Rosengren L, Lissner L, Blennow K. Mid-life adiposity factors relate to blood-brain barrier integrity in late life. J Intern Med 2007;262:643-50.
  • Börjesson-Hanson A, Gustafson D, Skoog I. Five-year mortality in relation to dementia and cognitive function in 95-year-olds, Neurology, 2007;69:2069-75.
  • Gudmundsson P, Skoog I, Waern M, Blennow K, Palsson S, Gustafson D. The relationship between cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers and depression in elderly women. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2007;15:832-838.
  • Gustafson D, Skoog I, Rosengren L, Zetterberg H, Blennow K. Cerebrospinal fluid _-amyloid 1-42 may predict cognitive decline in older women. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2007;78:461-464.
  • Henningsson S, Annerbrink K, Olsson M, Allgulander C, Andersch S, Sjödin I, Gustafson D, Skoog I, Norrback K, Adolfsson R, Eriksson E, Westberg L.. The Arg441His polymorphism in the tryptophan hydroxylase 2 gene in Sweden. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2007;144:816-7.

Book Chapters:
  • Skoog I, Gustafson D. Update on hypertension and Alzheimer’s Disease. Neurological
  • Research, in press.
  • Gustafson D, Skoog I. Control of vascular risk factors. In: L-O Wahlund, T Erkinjuntti, S Gauthier (eds) Vascular dementia in clinical practice, Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Invited Papers:
  • Gustafson DR. Adiposity hormones in dementia. J Neurol Sci, in press.
  • Luchsinger JA, Gustafson D. Adiposity and Alzheimer’s disease. J Alz Dis, 2010;16:693-704.
  • Luchsinger JA, Gustafson D. Adiposity and Alzheimer’s disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 2009;12:15-21.
  • Gustafson D. A life course of adiposity and dementia. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 2008;585:163-75.
Online Education:
  • Gustafson, D. (2010), "Vascular factors in Alzheimer's disease", in Hardy, J. (ed.), Alzheimer's Disease: The Biomedical & Life Sciences Collection, Henry Stewart Talks Ltd, London (online at