Background: Helicobacter pylori seropositivity is a potential risk for poor cognition among US adults.
Methods: Cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, Phase 1 (1988–1991), were used. Measures included age group-specific neuropsychological test batteries and two measures of H. pylori seropositivity (immunoglobulin G [IgG] and IgG CagA) (20–59 years old: n = 2090–2,248; 60–90 years old: n = 2123–2388). We explored sex- and race-specific associations.
Results: Using multiple ordinary least square and zero-inflated Poisson regression models, we detected a poorer performance among those 60–90 years old with H. pylori IgG+ versus IgG− on a verbal memory test (story recall, correct items), overall (β = −0.04 [0.01], p = .010). Non-Hispanic (NH) blacks and women (20–59 years old) performed worse on the serial digits learning total errors (SDL-TE) when H. pylori IgG+ (versus IgG−), another verbal memory test (β = +0.94 [0.40; p = .029] and β = +1.19 [0.44; p = .012], respectively; p<.10 for interaction by sex and race). More trials to completion on this test (SDL-TTC) were also required among H. pylori IgG+ overall (20–59 years old; β = +0.30 [0.13], p = .033). Other race-specific associations without significant interaction by race were detected in the same direction of worse performance with seropositivity in all three major race groups and for both age categories, covering several domains of cognition.
Conclusions: H. pylori seropositivity markers were associated with poor cognition among US adults. Longitudinal research is needed to extrapolote those findings to cognitive decline, incident dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.