The order and magnitude of pathologic processes in Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood, partly because the disease develops over many years. Autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease has a predictable age at onset and provides an opportunity to determine the sequence and magnitude of pathologic changes that culminate in symptomatic disease.
In this prospective, longitudinal study, we analyzed data from 128 participants who underwent baseline clinical and cognitive assessments, brain imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood tests. We used the participant’s age at baseline assessment and the parent’s age at the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to calculate the estimated years from expected symptom onset (age of the participant minus parent’s age at symptom onset). We conducted cross-sectional analyses of baseline data in relation to estimated years from expected symptom onset in order to determine the relative order and magnitude of pathophysiological changes.
Concentrations of amyloid-beta (Aβ)42 in the CSF appeared to decline 25 years before expected symptom onset. Aβ deposition, as measured by positron-emission tomography with the use of Pittsburgh compound B, was detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Increased concentrations of tau protein in the CSF and an increase in brain atrophy were detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Cerebral hypometabolism and impaired episodic memory were observed 10 years before expected symptom onset. Global cognitive impairment, as measured by the Mini–Mental State Examination and the Clinical Dementia Rating scale, was detected 5 years before expected symptom onset, and patients met diagnostic criteria for dementia at an average of 3 years after expected symptom onset.
We found that autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease was associated with a series of pathophysiological changes over decades in CSF biochemical markers of Alzheimer’s disease, brain amyloid deposition, and brain metabolism as well as progressive cognitive impairment. Our results require confirmation with the use of longitudinal data and may not apply to patients with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging and others; DIAN ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00869817.)
APOE ε4 status has been associated with greater cortical amyloid deposition whereas exercise has been associated with less in cognitively normal adults. The primary objective here was to examine whether physical exercise moderates the association between APOE genotype and amyloid deposition in cognitively normal adults.
APOE genotyping and a questionnaire on physical exercise engagement over the last decade were obtained in conjunction with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples and amyloid imaging with PET-PIB. Participants were classified as either low or high exercisers based on exercise guidelines of the American Heart Association.
201 cognitively normal adults (135 females) aged 45–88 were recruited from the Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center at Washington University. CSF samples were collected from 165 participants. Amyloid imaging was performed on 163 participants.
APOE ε4 carriers evidenced higher PIB binding (p<.001) and lower CSF Aβ42 levels (p<.001) than non-carriers. Our previous findings of higher PIB binding (p=.005) and lower CSF Aβ42 levels (p=.009) in more sedentary individuals were replicated. Most importantly, we observed a novel interaction between APOE status and exercise engagement for PIB binding (p=.008) such that a more sedentary lifestyle was significantly associated with higher PIB binding for ε4 carriers (p=.013) but not for ε4 non-carriers (p=.208). All findings remained significant after controlling for age, gender, education, hypertension, body mass index, diabetes, heart problems, history of depression and interval between assessments.
Collectively, these results suggest that cognitively normal sedentary APOE ε4+ individuals may be at augmented risk for cerebral amyloid deposition.
Diagnostic challenges exist for differentiating HIV associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) from symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in HIV+ participants. Both disorders have cerebral amyloid containing plaques associated with abnormalities in amyloid beta protein 1–42 (Aβ42) metabolism. We evaluated if the amyloid-binding agent 11C-Pittsburgh compound B (11C-PiB) could discriminate AD from HAND in middle-aged HIV+ participants.
11C-PiB scanning, clinical assessment, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis were performed. χ2 and t-tests assessed differences in clinical and demographic variables between HIV+ participants and community-living individuals followed by Alzheimer Disease Research Center (ADRC). An analysis of variance (ANOVA) assessed for regional differences in Aβ42 using 11C-PiB.
ADRC and HIV clinic
16 HIV+ participants (11 cognitively normal, 5 with HAND) and 19 ADRC participants (8 cognitively normal, 11 with symptomatic AD).
Main Outcome Measure(s)
Mean and regional 11C-PiB binding potentials
Symptomatic AD were older (p < 0.001), had lower CSF Aβ42 (p < 0.001), and had higher CSF tau levels (p < 0.001) than other groups. Regardless of degree of impairment, HIV+ participants did not have increased 11C-PiB. Mean and regional binding potentials were elevated for symptomatic AD participants (p <0.0001).
Middle-aged HIV+ participants, even with HAND, do not exhibit increased 11C-PiB while symptomatic AD individuals have increased fibrillar Aβ42 deposition in cortical and subcortical regions. Observed dissimilarities between HAND and AD may reflect differences in Aβ42 metabolism. 11C-PiB may provide a diagnostic biomarker for distinguishing symptomatic AD from HAND in middle-aged HIV+ participants. Future cross sectional and longitudinal studies are required to assess utility of 11C-PiB in older HAND individuals.
HIV; Pittsburgh compound B (PIB); amyloid; HIV associated neurocognitive disorders; Alzheimer’s disease
To evaluate the combination of cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers of Aβ42, tau, and phosphorylated tau (ptau181) with education and normalized whole brain volume (nWBV) to predict incident cognitive impairment and test the cognitive/brain reserve hypothesis.
Longitudinal cohort study.
Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center of Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.
Convenience sample of 197 participants aged 50 years and above, with normal cognition (Clinical Dementia Rating [CDR] of 0) at baseline, followed for a mean of 3.3 years.
Main outcome measure
Time to cognitive impairment (CDR ≥ 0.5).
Three-factor interactions between the baseline biomarker values, education, and nWBV were found for Cox proportional hazards models testing tau (p=.03) and ptau (p=.008). Among those with lower tau values, nWBV (hazard ratio [HR]=.54, 95% confidence interval [CI]=.31–.91; p=.02), but not education, was related to time to cognitive impairment. For participants with higher tau values, education interacted with nWBV to predict incident impairment (p=.01). For individuals with lower ptau values, there was no effect of education or nWBV. Education interacted with nWBV to predict incident cognitive impairment among those with higher ptau values (p=.02). In models testing Aβ42, larger nWBV was associated with a slower time to cognitive impairment (HR=.84, 95%CI=.71–.99, p=.0348), but there was no effect of Aβ42 or education.
Among individuals with higher levels of CSF tau and ptau, but normal cognition at baseline, time to incident cognitive impairment is moderated by education and brain volume as predicted by the cognitive/brain reserve hypothesis.
There is a growing need to identify cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) markers that can detect Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology in cognitively normal individuals since it is in this population that disease-modifying therapies may have the greatest chance of success. While AD pathology is estimated to begin ~10–15 years prior to the onset of cognitive decline, substantial neuronal loss is present by the time the earliest signs of cognitive impairment appear. Visinin-like protein −1 (VILIP-1) has demonstrated potential utility as a marker of neuronal injury. We here investigate CSF VILIP-1 and VILIP-1/amyloid-β42 (Aβ42) ratio as diagnostic and prognostic markers in early AD.
We assessed CSF levels of VILIP-1, tau, phosphorylated-tau181 (p-tau181), and Aβ42 in cognitively normal controls [CNC] (n=211), individuals with early symptomatic AD (n=98), and individuals with other dementias (n=19). Structural magnetic resonance imaging (n=192) and amyloid imaging with Pittsburgh Compound-B (n=156) were obtained in subsets of this cohort. Among the CNC cohort, 164 individuals had follow-up annual cognitive assessments for 2–3 years.
CSF VILIP-1 levels differentiated individuals with AD from CNC and individuals with other dementias. CSF VILIP-1 levels correlated with CSF tau, p-tau181, and brain volumes in AD. VILIP-1 and VILIP-1/Aβ42 predicted future cognitive impairment in CNC over the follow-up period. Importantly, CSF VILIP-1/Aβ42 predicted future cognitive impairment at least as well as tau/Aβ42 and p-tau181/Aβ42.
These findings suggest that CSF VILIP-1 and VILIP-1/Aβ42 offer diagnostic utility for early AD, and can predict future cognitive impairment in cognitively normal individuals similarly to tau and tau/Aβ42, respectively.
Visinin-like protein-1; Alzheimer’s disease; biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluid; neuronal injury
Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is the most statistically significant genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD). The linkage disequilibrium pattern around the APOE gene has made it difficult to determine whether all of the association signal is derived from APOE or if there is an independent signal from a nearby gene. In this study we attempted to replicate a recently reported association of APOE 3-TOMM40 haplotypes with risk and age at onset.
We used standard techniques to genotype several polymorphisms in the APOE-TOMM40 region in a large case-control series, in a series with cerebrospinal fluid biomarker data and in brain tissue.
We failed to replicate the previously reported association of the polyT polymorphism (rs10524523) with risk and age at onset. We found a significant association between rs10524523 and risk for LOAD among APOE 33 homozygotes but in the opposite direction to the previously reported association (the very-long allele was underrepresented in cases compared to controls in our study (allele frequency: 0.41 vs. 0.48 respectively; p=0.004)). We found no association between rs10524523 and CSF tau or Aβ42 levels or TOMM40 or APOE gene expression.
Although we were not able to replicate the earlier association between the APOE 3-TOMM40 haplotypes and age at onset, we did observe that the polyT polymorphism is associated with risk for LOAD among APOE 33 homozygotes in a large case-control series, but in the opposite direction to the previous report. Additional studies in very large samples will be needed to confirm this association.
The apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele is the strongest genetic risk factor for late-onset, sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The APOE ε4 allele dramatically increases AD risk and decreases age of onset, likely through its strong effect on the accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide. In contrast, the APOE ε2 allele appears to decrease AD risk. Most rare, early-onset forms of familial AD are caused by autosomal dominant mutations that often lead to overproduction of Aβ42 peptide. However, the mechanism by which APOE alleles differentially modulate Aβ accumulation in sporadic, late-onset AD is less clear. In a cohort of cognitively normal individuals, we report that reliable molecular and neuroimaging biomarkers of cerebral Aβ deposition vary in an apoE isoform-dependent manner. We hypothesized that human apoE isoforms differentially affect Aβ clearance or synthesis in vivo, resulting in an apoE isoform-dependent pattern of Aβ accumulation later in life. Performing in vivo microdialysis in a mouse model of β-amyloidosis expressing human apoE isoforms (PDAPP/TRE), we find that the concentration and clearance of soluble Aβ in the brain interstitial fluid depends on the isoform of apoE expressed. This pattern parallels the extent of Aβ deposition observed in aged PDAPP/TRE mice. Importantly, apoE isoform-dependent differences in soluble Aβ metabolism are observed not only in aged PDAPP/TRE mice but also in young PDAPP/TRE mice, well before the onset of Aβ deposition in amyloid plaques. Additionally, amyloidogenic processing of amyloid precursor protein and Aβ synthesis, as assessed by in vivo stable isotopic labeling kinetics, do not vary according to apoE isoform in young PDAPP/TRE mice. Our results suggest that APOE alleles contribute to AD risk by differentially regulating clearance of Aβ from the brain, suggesting that Aβ clearance pathways may be useful therapeutic targets for AD prevention.
The pathophysiological process of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is thought to begin many years before the diagnosis of AD dementia. This long “preclinical” phase of AD would provide a critical opportunity for therapeutic intervention; however, we need to further elucidate the link between the pathological cascade of AD and the emergence of clinical symptoms. The National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association convened an international workgroup to review the biomarker, epidemiological, and neuropsychological evidence, and to develop recommendations to determine the factors which best predict the risk of progression from “normal” cognition to mild cognitive impairment and AD dementia. We propose a conceptual framework and operational research criteria, based on the prevailing scientific evidence to date, to test and refine these models with longitudinal clinical research studies. These recommendations are solely intended for research purposes and do not have any clinical implications at this time. It is hoped that these recommendations will provide a common rubric to advance the study of preclinical AD, and ultimately, aid the field in moving toward earlier intervention at a stage of AD when some disease-modifying therapies may be most efficacious.
Preclinical Alzheimer's disease; Biomarker; Amyloid; Neurodegeneration; Prevention
Alcadeinα (Alcα) is a neuronal membrane protein that colocalizes with the Alzheimer's amyloid-β precursor protein (APP). Successive cleavage of APP by β- and γ-secretases generates the aggregatable amyloid-β peptide (Aβ), while cleavage of APP or Alcα by α- and γ-secretases generates non-aggregatable p3 or p3-Alcα peptides. Aβ and p3-Alcα can be recovered from human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). We have previously reported alternative processing of APP and Alcα in the CSF of some patients with sporadic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD (SAD).
Using the sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) system that detects total p3-Alcα, we determined levels of total p3-Alcα in CSF from subjects in one of four diagnostic categories (elderly controls, MCI, SAD, or other neurological disease) derived from three independent cohorts. Levels of Aβ40 correlated with levels of total p3-Alcα in all cohorts.
We confirm that Aβ40 is the most abundant Aβ species, and we propose a model in which CSF p3-Alcα can serve as a either (1) a nonaggregatable surrogate marker for γ-secretase activity; (2) as a marker for clearance of transmembrane domain peptides derived from integral protein catabolism; or (3) both. We propose the specification of an MCI/SAD endophenotype characterized by co-elevation of levels of both CSF p3-Alcα and Aβ40, and we propose that subjects in this category might be especially responsive to therapeutics aimed at modulation of γ-secretase function and/or transmembrane domain peptide clearance. These peptides may also be used to monitor the efficacy of therapeutics that target these steps in Aβ metabolism
Alzheimer's disease; Cerebrospinal fluid; γ-secretase; Alcadein; β-amyloid
Screening tests for Alzheimer’s disease lack sensitivity and specificity. We developed the AD8, a brief dementia screening interview validated against clinical and cognitive evaluations, as an improvement over current screening methods. Because insufficient follow-up has occurred to validate the AD8 against the neuropathologic findings of Alzheimer’s disease, we investigated whether AD8 scores correspond to impairment in episodic memory testing and changes in biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (cerebrospinal fluid and amyloid imaging with Pittsburgh compound B) characteristic of symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease. We also compared informant-based assessments with brief performance-based dementia screening measurements such as the Mini Mental State Exam. The sample (n = 257) had a mean age of 75.4 years with 15.1 years of education; 88.7% were Caucasian and 45.5% were male. The sample was divided into two groups based on their AD8 scores: those with a negative dementia screening test (AD8 score 0 or 1, n = 137) and those with a positive dementia screening test (AD8 score ≥2, n = 120). Individuals with positive AD8 scores had abnormal Pittsburgh compound B binding (P < 0.001) and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers (P < 0.001) compared with individuals with negative AD8 scores. Individuals with positive AD8 tests and positive biomarkers scored in the impaired range on the Wechsler Logical Memory Story A (mean score 7.0 ± 4.5 for Pittsburgh compound B; mean score 7.6 ± 5.3 for cerebrospinal fluid amyloid beta protein 1–42). The AD8 area under the curve for Pittsburgh compound B was 0.737 (95% confidence interval: 0.64–0.83) and for cerebrospinal fluid amyloid beta protein 1–42 was 0.685 (95% confidence interval: 0.60–0.77) suggesting good discrimination. The AD8 had superior sensitivity in detecting early stages of dementia compared with the Mini Mental State Examination. The AD8 had a likelihood ratio of a positive test of 5.8 (95% confidence interval: 5.4–6.3) and likelihood ratio of a negative test of 0.04 (95% confidence interval: 0.03–0.06), increasing the pre-test probability of an individual having symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals with AD8 scores of ≥2 had a biomarker phenotype consistent with Alzheimer’s disease and lower performance on episodic memory tests, supporting a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Informant-based assessments may be superior to performance-based screening measures such as the Mini Mental State Examination in corresponding to underlying Alzheimer’s disease pathology, particularly at the earliest stages of decline. The use of a brief test such as the AD8 may improve strategies for detecting dementia in community settings where biomarkers may not be readily available, and may enrich clinical trial recruitment by increasing the likelihood that participants have underlying biomarker abnormalities.
AD8; Alzheimer’s disease; screening; biomarkers; preclinical; cognition
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are currently being considered for inclusion in revised diagnostic criteria for research and/or clinical purposes to increase the certainty of ante-mortem diagnosis. Establishing biomarker validity requires demonstration that the assays are true markers of underlying disease pathology (e.g., amyloid plaques and/or neurofibrillary tangles) in living individuals.
We compared the performances of the two most commonly used platforms, INNOTEST® ELISA and INNO-BIA AlzBio3 for measurement of CSF amyloid-beta (Aβ) and tau(s), for identifying the presence of amyloid plaques in a research cohort (n=103). Values obtained for CSF Aβ1-42, total tau and phosphorylated tau181 (p-tau181) using the two assay platforms were compared to brain amyloid load as assessed by positron emission tomography using the amyloid imaging agent, Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB).
Research volunteers who are cognitively normal or have very mild to moderate AD dementia.
The two assay platforms yielded different (~2–6-fold) absolute values for the various analytes, but relative values were highly correlated. CSF Aβ1-42 correlated inversely, and tau and p-tau181 correlated positively, with the amount of cortical PIB binding, albeit to differing degrees. Both assays yielded similar patterns of CSF biomarker correlations with amyloid load. The ratios of total tau/Aβ1-42 and p-tau181/Aβ1-42 outperformed any single analyte, including Aβ1-2, in discriminating individuals with versus without cortical amyloid.
The INNOTEST® and INNO-BIA CSF platforms performed equally well in identifying individuals with underlying amyloid plaque pathology. Differences in absolute values, however, point to the need for assay-specific diagnostic cut-point values.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid; biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluid; imaging (PET, MRI) in dementias; Pittsburgh Compound B
In addition to the increasingly recognized role of physical exercise in maintaining cognition, exercise may influence Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology as transgenic mouse studies show lowered levels of AD pathology in exercise groups. The objective of this study was to elucidate the association between exercise and AD pathology in humans using Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB), amyloid-β (Aβ)42, tau, and phosphorylated tau (ptau)181 biomarkers.
Sixty-nine older adults (17 males, 52 females) aged 55–88 were recruited and confirmed to be cognitively normal. A questionnaire on physical exercise levels over the last decade was administered to all. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples were collected from 56 participants, and amyloid imaging with PIB was performed on 54 participants.
Participants were classified based on biomarker levels. Those with elevated PIB (p=.030), tau (p=.040) and ptau181 ((p=.044) had significantly lower exercise with a non-significant trend for lower Aβ42 (p=.135) to be associated with less exercise. Results were similar for PIB after controlling for covariates; tau (p=.115) and ptau181 (p=.123) differences were reduced to non-significant trends. Additional analyses also demonstrated that active individuals who met the exercise guidelines set by the American Heart Association (AHA) had significantly lower PIB binding and higher Aβ42 levels with and without controlling for covariates (PIB: p=.006 and p=.001; Aβ42: p=.042 and p=.046). Lastly, the associations between exercise engagement and PIB levels were more prominent in APOE epsilon 4 non-carriers.
Collectively, these results are supportive of an association between exercise engagement and AD biomarkers in cognitively normal older adults.
To date, all known Alzheimer's disease genes influence amyloid beta (Aβ). The development of in vivo imaging of Aβ deposition in the human brain using Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) offers the possibility of using cortical PIB binding as a quantitative endophenotype for genetic studies of late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD).
Heritability of Aβ deposition was determined using 82 elderly siblings from 35 families. Correlation with other Aβ related traits was determined using an unrelated sample of 112 individuals. For both samples, APOE ε4 was genotyped and PET imaging was performed using the PIB ligand. Mean cortical binding potential (MCBP) was computed from several regions-of-interest.
MCBP has a high heritability (0.61, p=0.043). Furthermore, most of the heritable component (74%) cannot be explained by APOE ε4 genotype. Analysis of the unrelated sample reveals that a third of the variance of MCBP cannot be predicted by other biological traits, including CSF Aβ42 levels.
These findings demonstrate that MCBP is a genetic trait and that other more easily measured Aβ related traits such as CSF Aβ42 do not fully explain the variance in MCBP. Thus, mean cortical PIB binding is a useful trait for large-scale genetic studies of LOAD.
Recent large-scale genetic studies of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) have identified risk variants in CALHM1, GAB2 and SORL1. The mechanisms by which these genes might modulate risk are not definitively known. CALHM1 and SORL1 may alter amyloid-beta (Aβ) levels and GAB2 may influence phosphorylation of the tau protein. In this study we have analyzed disease associated genetic variants in each of these genes for association with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) Aβ or tau levels in 602 samples from two independent CSF series. We failed to detect association between CSF Aβ42 levels and SNPs in SORL1 despite substantial statistical power to detect association. While we also failed to detect association between variants in GAB2 and CSF tau levels, power to detect this association was limited. Finally, our data suggest that the minor allele of rs2986017, in CALHM1, is marginally associated with CSF Aβ42 levels. This association is consistent with previous reports that this non-synonymous coding substitution results in increased Aβ levels in vitro and provides support for an Aβ-related mechanism for modulating risk for AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; genetics; association; endophenotypes; amyloid; tau; CALHM1; SORL1; GAB2
To examine interactions of Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype with age and with in vivo measures of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in cognitively normal aging.
Two hundred and 41 cognitively normal individuals, age 45 to 88 years, had cerebral amyloid imaging studies with Pittsburgh Compound-B (PIB). Of the 241 individuals, 168 (70%) also had cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) assays of amyloid-beta42 (Aβ42), tau, and phosphorylated tau (ptau181). All individuals were genotyped for APOE.
The frequency of individuals with elevated mean cortical binding potential (MCBP) for PIB rose in an age-dependent manner from 0% at ages 45-49 years to 30.3% at 80-88 years. Reduced levels of CSF Aβ42 appear to begin earlier (18.2% of those age 45-49 years) and increase with age in higher frequencies (50% at age 80-88 years) than elevations of MCBP. There is a gene dose effect for the APOE4 genotype, with greater MCBP increases and greater reductions in CSF Aβ42 with increased numbers of APOE4 alleles. Individuals with an APOE2 have no increase in MCBP with age and have higher CSF Aβ42 levels than individuals without an APOE2 allele. There is no APOE4 or APOE2 effect on CSF tau or ptau181.
Increasing cerebral Aβ deposition with age is the pathobiological phenotype of APOE4. The biomarker sequence that detects Aβ deposition may first be lowered CSF Aβ42, followed by elevated MCBP for PIB. A substantial proportion of cognitively normal individuals have presumptive preclinical AD.
preclinical Alzheimer’s disease; Alzheimer’s biomarkers; Aβ; amyloid imaging (PIB); APOE
To determine whether preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD), as detected by the amyloid imaging agent Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB) in cognitively normal older adults, is associated with risk of symptomatic AD.
A longitudinal cohort study of cognitively normal older adults assessed with positron emission tomography (PET) to determine the mean cortical binding potential for PIB and followed with annual clinical and cognitive assessments for progression to very mild dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT).
Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
One hundred and fifty-nine participants with mean age of 71.5 y in a longitudinal study of memory and aging had a PET PIB scan when cognitively normal with Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) of 0.
Progression from CDR 0 status to CDR 0.5 (very mild dementia).
Twenty-three participants progressed to CDR 0.5 at follow-up assessment (range: 1–5 assessments after PET PIB). Of these, 9 also were diagnosed with DAT. Higher MCBP values for PIB (hazard ratio 4.85, 95% CI, 1.22–19.01, p = .02) and age (hazard ratio 1.14, 95% CI 1.02–1.28, p = .03) predicted progression to CDR 0.5 DAT. The CDR 0.5 DAT group showed decline in three cognitive domains (episodic memory, semantic memory, and visuospatial performance) and had volume loss in the parahippocampal gyrus (includes entorhinal cortex) compared with individuals who remained CDR 0.
Preclinical AD, as detected by PET PIB, is not benign as it is associated with progression to symptomatic AD.
Alzheimer’s disease will reach epidemic proportions within the next 20–30 years if left unchecked. Currently, there are no treatments that prevent or slow Alzheimer’s disease but many are being developed. Parallel efforts to develop biomarkers to aid in disease diagnosis and prognosis, and assess disease risk are currently underway. Clinicopathological and biomarker studies have demonstrated that Alzheimer’s disease pathology can be detected preclinically. Using biomarkers to identify affected individuals prior to the onset of clinical symptoms and associated synaptic/neuronal loss should enable novel clinical trial design and early mechanism-based therapeutic intervention. This article summarizes the most promising cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers, highlights novel applications and current challenges, and provides a prediction on how the field may evolve in 5–10 years.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β; biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluid; preclinical Alzheimer’s disease; tau
This study explored differences in intraindividual variability in three attention tasks across a large sample of healthy older adults and individuals with very mild dementia of the Alzheimer's type (DAT). Three groups of participants (healthy young adults, healthy older adults, very mild DAT) were administered three computerized tasks of attentional selection and switching (Stroop, Simon, Task Switching). The results indicated that a measure of intraindividual variability, coefficient of variation (CoV; SD/Mean) increased across age and early-stage DAT. The CoV in Stroop discriminated the performance of ε4 carriers from noncarriers in healthy older controls and the CoV in Task Switching was correlated with CSF biomarkers predictive of DAT.
intraindividual variation; attention; aging; Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects millions worldwide. Currently, there are no treatments that prevent or slow AD. Like other neurodegenerative diseases, AD is characterized by protein misfolding in the brain. This process and associated brain damage begins years prior to the substantial neurodegeneration that accompanies dementia. Studies utilizing new neuroimaging techniques and fluid biomarkers suggest that AD pathology can be detected pre-clinically. These advances should enable novel clinical trial design and early mechanism-based therapeutic intervention.
Although a battery of neuropsychological tests are often used in making a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), definitive diagnosis still relies on pathological evaluation at autopsy. The identification of AD biomarkers may allow for a less invasive and more accurate diagnosis as well as serve as a predictor of future disease progression and treatment response. Importantly, biomarkers may also allow for the identification of individuals who are already developing the underlying pathology of AD such as plaques and tangles yet who are not yet demented, i.e. “preclinical” AD. Attempts to identify biomarkers have included fluid and imaging studies, with a number of candidate markers showing significant potential. More recently, better reagent availability and novel methods of assessment have further spurred the search for biomarkers of AD. This review will discuss promising fluid and imaging markers to date.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β; biomarker; cerebrospinal fluid; neuroimaging; proteomics; tau
In order for therapies for Alzheimer's disease (AD) to have the greatest impact, it will likely be necessary to treat individuals in the “preclinical” (presymptomatic) stage. Fluid and neuroimaging measures are being explored as possible biomarkers of AD pathology that could aid in identifying individuals in this stage in order to target them for clinical trials and to direct and monitor therapy. The objective of this study was to determine if cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers for AD suggest the presence of brain damage in the preclinical stage of AD.
We investigated the relationship between structural neuroimaging measures (whole brain volume) and levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) amyloid-β (Aβ)40, Aβ42, tau, and phosphorylated tau181 (ptau181), and plasma Aβ40 and Aβ42 in well-characterized research subjects with very mild and mild dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT; n=29) and age-matched, cognitively normal controls (n=69).
Levels of CSF tau and ptau181, but not Aβ42, correlated inversely with whole brain volume in very mild/mild DAT, whereas levels of CSF Aβ42, but not tau or ptau181, was positively correlated with whole brain volume in non-demented controls.
Reduction in CSF Aβ42, likely reflecting Aβ aggregation in the brain, is associated with brain atrophy in the preclinical phase of AD. This suggests that there is toxicity associated with Aβ aggregation prior to the onset of clinically detectable disease. Increases in CSF tau (and ptau181) are later events that correlate with further structural damage and occur with clinical onset and progression.
Alzheimer's disease; amyloid-β; biomarker; brain atrophy; cerebrospinal fluid; MRI; preclinical AD; tau
Identifying biomarkers of Alzheimer disease (AD) risk will be critical to effective AD prevention. Levels of circulating amyloid β (Aβ) 40 and 42 may be candidate biomarkers. However, properties of plasma Aβ assays must be established.
Using five different protocols, blinded samples were used to assess: intra-assay reproducibility; impact of EDTA vs. heparin anticoagulant tubes; and effect of time-to-blood processing. In addition, percent recovery of known Aβ concentrations in spiked samples was assessed.
Median intra-assay coefficients of variation (CVs) for the assay protocols ranged from 6–24% for Aβ-40, and 8–14% for Aβ-42. There were no systematic differences in reproducibility by collection method. Plasma concentrations of Aβ (particularly Aβ-42) appeared stable in whole blood kept in ice packs and processed as long as 24 hours after collection. Recovery of expected concentrations was modest, ranging from -24% to 44% recovery of Aβ-40, and 17% to 61% of Aβ-42.
Across five protocols, plasma Aβ-40 and Aβ-42 levels were measured with generally low error, and measurements appeared similar in blood collected in EDTA vs. heparin. While these preliminary findings suggest that measuring plasma Aβ-40 and Aβ-42 may be feasible in varied research settings, additional work in this area is necessary.
Alzheimer disease; amyloid; assay reliability; biomarker; quality control
Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology is estimated to develop many years before detectable cognitive decline. Fluid and imaging biomarkers may identify people in early symptomatic and even preclinical stages, possibly when potential treatments can best preserve cognitive function. We previously reported that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of amyloid-β42 (Aβ42) serve as an excellent marker for brain amyloid as detected by the amyloid tracer, Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB). Using data from 189 cognitively normal participants, we now report a positive linear relationship between CSF tau/ptau181 (primary constituents of neurofibrillary tangles) with the amount of cortical amyloid. We observe a strong inverse relationship of cortical PIB binding with CSF Aβ42 but not for plasma Aβ species. Some individuals have low CSF Aβ42 but no cortical PIB binding. Together, these data suggest that changes in brain Aβ42 metabolism and amyloid formation are early pathogenic events in AD, and that significant disruptions in CSF tau metabolism likely occur after Aβ42 initially aggregates and increases as amyloid accumulates. These findings have important implications for preclinical AD diagnosis and treatment.
Amyloid; biomarker; cerebrospinal fluid; Pittsburgh Compound B; preclinical Alzheimer's disease
To determine the temporal relationships of clinical, cognitive, Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB) amyloid imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) markers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
A case report of a longitudinally assessed participant in a memory and aging study who had serial clinical and psychometric assessments over 6 years, in addition to PiB imaging and CSF biomarker assays, prior to coming to autopsy.
Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
An 85-year old individual was cognitively normal at his initial and next 3 annual assessments. Decline in measures of episodic memory and, to a lesser degree, working memory began at about age 88 years. PiB-PET amyloid imaging was negative at age 88.5 years, but at age 89.5 years there was reduced amyloid-beta 42 (Aβ42) and elevated levels of tau in the CSF. At his 6th assessment, when he was 90 years old, he was diagnosed with very mild dementia of the Alzheimer type. After death at age 91 years, the autopsy revealed foci of frequent neocortical diffuse Aβ plaques, sufficient to fulfill Khachaturian neuropathologic criteria for AD, but neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles were sparse. Postmortem biochemical analysis of the cerebral tissue confirmed that PiB-PET-binding was below the level needed for in vivo detection.
Clinical, cognitive, and CSF markers consistent with AD may precede detection of cerebral Aβ with amyloid imaging agents such as PiB, which primarily label fibrillar Aβ plaques.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology is estimated to develop many years before detectable cognitive decline. Fluid and imaging biomarkers may identify people in early symptomatic and even preclinical stages, possibly when potential treatments can best preserve cognitive function. We previously reported that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of amyloid-β42 (Aβ42) serve as an excellent marker for brain amyloid as detected by the amyloid tracer, Pittsburgh compound B (PIB). Using data from 189 cognitively normal participants, we now report a positive linear relationship between CSF tau/ptau181 (primary constituents of neurofibrillary tangles) with the amount of cortical amyloid. We observe a strong inverse relationship of cortical PIB binding with CSF Aβ42 but not for plasma Aβ species. Some individuals have low CSF Aβ42 but no cortical PIB binding. Together, these data suggest that changes in brain Aβ42 metabolism and amyloid formation are early pathogenic events in AD, and that significant disruptions in CSF tau metabolism likely occur after Aβ42 initially aggregates and increases as amyloid accumulates. These findings have important implications for preclinical AD diagnosis and treatment.
amyloid; biomarker; cerebrospinal fluid; Pittsburgh compound B; preclinical Alzheimer's disease