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1.  Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease and its outcome: a longitudinal cohort study 
Lancet neurology  2013;12(10):957-965.
New research criteria for preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD)have been proposed by the National Institute on Aging and Alzheimer’s Association. They include stages for cognitively normal individuals with abnormal amyloid markers (stage 1), abnormal amyloid and injury markers (stage 2) and abnormal amyloid and injury markers and subtle cognitive changes (stage 3). We investigated the occurrence and long-term outcome of these stages.
Cerebrospinal fluidamyloid-β1–42 and tau levels and a memory composite score were used to classify 311 cognitively normal(Clinical Dementia Rating [CDR]=0) research participants ≥65 years as normal (both markers normal), preclinical AD stage 1–3, or Suspected Non-Alzheimer Pathophysiology (SNAP, abnormal injury marker without abnormal amyloid marker). Outcome measures were progression to CDR≥0·5 symptomatic AD and mortality up to 15 years after baseline (average=4 years).
129 (41·5%) of participants were normal, 47 (15%)were in stage 1, 36 (12%) in stage 2, 13 (4%)in stage 3, 72 (23%) had SNAP, and 14 (4·5%) remained unclassified. The proportion of preclinical AD (stage 1–3) in our cohort was higher in individuals older than 72 years and in APOE-ε4 carriers. The 5-year progression rate to CDR≥0·5 symptomatic AD was 2% for normal participants, 11% for stage 1, 26% for stage 2, 56% for stage 3, and 5% for SNAP. Compared with normal individuals, participants with preclinical AD had an increased risk of death (HR=6·2, p=0·0396).
Preclinical AD is common in cognitively normal elderly and strongly associated with future cognitive decline and mortality. Preclinical AD thus should be an important target for therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC3904678  PMID: 24012374
2.  CSF biomarkers of Alzheimer disease 
Neurology  2013;81(23):2028-2031.
To test whether CSF Alzheimer disease biomarkers (β-amyloid 42 [Aβ42], tau, phosphorylated tau at threonine 181 [ptau181], tau/Aβ42, and ptau181/Aβ42) predict future decline in noncognitive outcomes among individuals cognitively normal at baseline.
Longitudinal data from participants (N = 430) who donated CSF within 1 year of a clinical assessment indicating normal cognition and were aged 50 years or older were analyzed. Mixed linear models were used to test whether baseline biomarker values predicted future decline in function (instrumental activities of daily living), weight, behavior, and mood. Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes and Mini-Mental State Examination scores were also examined.
Abnormal levels of each biomarker were related to greater impairment with time in behavior (p < 0.035) and mood (p < 0.012) symptoms, and more difficulties with independent activities of daily living (p < 0.012). However, biomarker levels were unrelated to weight change with time (p > 0.115). As expected, abnormal biomarker values also predicted more rapidly changing Mini-Mental State Examination (p < 0.041) and Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes (p < 0.001) scores compared with normal values.
CSF biomarkers among cognitively normal individuals are associated with future decline in some, but not all, noncognitive Alzheimer disease symptoms studied. Additional work is needed to determine the extent to which these findings generalize to other samples.
PMCID: PMC3854826  PMID: 24212387
3.  Functional Connectivity in Autosomal Dominant and Late-Onset Alzheimer Disease 
JAMA neurology  2014;71(9):1111-1122.
Autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease (ADAD) is caused by rare genetic mutations in three specific genes, in contrast to late-onset Alzheimer Disease (LOAD), which has a more polygenetic risk profile.
Design, Setting, and Participants
We analyzed functional connectivity in multiple brain resting state networks (RSNs) in a cross-sectional cohort of ADAD (N=79) and LOAD (N=444) human participants using resting state functional connectivity MRI (rs-fcMRI) at multiple international academic sites.
Main Outcomes and Measures
For both types of AD, we quantified and compared functional connectivity changes in RSNs as a function of dementia severity as measured by clinical dementia rating (CDR). In ADAD, we qualitatively investigated functional connectivity changes with respect to estimated years from onset of symptoms within five RSNs.
Functional connectivity decreases with increasing CDR were similar for both LOAD and ADAD in multiple RSNs. Ordinal logistic regression models constructed in each type of AD accurately predicted CDR stage in the other, further demonstrating similarity of functional connectivity loss in each disease type. Among ADAD participants, functional connectivity in multiple RSNs appeared qualitatively lower in asymptomatic mutation carriers near their anticipated age of symptom onset compared to asymptomatic mutation non-carriers.
Conclusions and Relevance
rs-fcMRI changes with progressing AD severity are similar between ADAD and LOAD. Rs-fcMRI may be a useful endpoint for LOAD and ADAD therapy trials. ADAD disease process may be an effective model for LOAD disease process.
PMCID: PMC4240274  PMID: 25069482
Resting-state functional connectivity; autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease; late-onset Alzheimer's disease; default mode network; apolipoprotein E (APOE)
4.  Genome-Wide Association Study of CSF Levels of 59 Alzheimer's Disease Candidate Proteins: Significant Associations with Proteins Involved in Amyloid Processing and Inflammation 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(10):e1004758.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) 42 amino acid species of amyloid beta (Aβ42) and tau levels are strongly correlated with the presence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathology including amyloid plaques and neurodegeneration and have been successfully used as endophenotypes for genetic studies of AD. Additional CSF analytes may also serve as useful endophenotypes that capture other aspects of AD pathophysiology. Here we have conducted a genome-wide association study of CSF levels of 59 AD-related analytes. All analytes were measured using the Rules Based Medicine Human DiscoveryMAP Panel, which includes analytes relevant to several disease-related processes. Data from two independently collected and measured datasets, the Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) and Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), were analyzed separately, and combined results were obtained using meta-analysis. We identified genetic associations with CSF levels of 5 proteins (Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2), Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 4 (CCL4), Interleukin 6 receptor (IL6R) and Matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP3)) with study-wide significant p-values (p<1.46×10−10) and significant, consistent evidence for association in both the Knight ADRC and the ADNI samples. These proteins are involved in amyloid processing and pro-inflammatory signaling. SNPs associated with ACE, IL6R and MMP3 protein levels are located within the coding regions of the corresponding structural gene. The SNPs associated with CSF levels of CCL4 and CCL2 are located in known chemokine binding proteins. The genetic associations reported here are novel and suggest mechanisms for genetic control of CSF and plasma levels of these disease-related proteins. Significant SNPs in ACE and MMP3 also showed association with AD risk. Our findings suggest that these proteins/pathways may be valuable therapeutic targets for AD. Robust associations in cognitively normal individuals suggest that these SNPs also influence regulation of these proteins more generally and may therefore be relevant to other diseases.
Author Summary
The use of quantitative endophenotypes from cerebrospinal fluid has led to the identification of several genetic variants that alter risk or rate of progression of Alzheimer's disease. Here we have analyzed the levels of 58 disease-related proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid for association with millions of variants across the human genome. We have identified significant, replicable associations with 5 analytes, Angiotensin-converting enzyme, Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2, Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 4, Interleukin 6 receptor and Matrix metalloproteinase-3. Our results suggest that these variants play a regulatory role in the respective protein levels and are relevant to the inflammatory and amyloid processing pathways. Variants in associated with ACE and those associated with MMP3 levels also show association with risk for Alzheimer's disease in the expected directions. These associations are consistent in cerebrospinal fluid and plasma and in samples with only cognitively normal individuals suggesting that they are relevant in the regulation of these protein levels beyond the context of Alzheimer's disease.
PMCID: PMC4207667  PMID: 25340798
5.  Upcoming candidate cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease 
Biomarkers in medicine  2012;6(4):455-476.
Dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is estimated to reach epidemic proportions by the year 2030. Given the limited accuracy of current AD clinical diagnosis, biomarkers of AD pathologies are currently being sought. Reductions in cerebrospinal fluid levels of β-amyloid 42 (a marker of amyloid plaques) and elevations in tau species (markers of neurofibrillary tangles and/or neurodegeneration) are well-established as biomarkers useful for AD diagnosis and prognosis. However, novel markers for other features of AD pathophysiology (e.g., β-amyloid processing, neuroinflammation and neuronal stress/dysfunction) and for other non-AD dementias are required to improve the accuracy of AD disease diagnosis, prognosis, staging and therapeutic monitoring (theragnosis). This article discusses the potential of several promising novel cerebrospinal fluid analytes, highlights the next steps critical for advancement in the field, and provides a prediction on how the field may evolve in 5–10 years.
PMCID: PMC3477809  PMID: 22917147
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid; biomarker; cerebrospinal fluid; diagnostic accuracy; neurodegeneration; neurofibrillary tangles; neuroinflammation; prognosis; theragnosis
6.  Quantitative Label-Free Proteomics for Discovery of Biomarkers in Cerebrospinal Fluid: Assessment of Technical and Inter-Individual Variation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64314.
Biomarkers are required for pre-symptomatic diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a favored source because its proteome reflects the composition of the brain. Ideal biomarkers have low technical and inter-individual variability (subject variance) among control subjects to minimize overlaps between clinical groups. This study evaluates a process of multi-affinity fractionation (MAF) and quantitative label-free liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) for CSF biomarker discovery by (1) identifying reparable sources of technical variability, (2) assessing subject variance and residual technical variability for numerous CSF proteins, and (3) testing its ability to segregate samples on the basis of desired biomarker characteristics.
Fourteen aliquots of pooled CSF and two aliquots from six cognitively normal individuals were randomized, enriched for low-abundance proteins by MAF, digested endoproteolytically, randomized again, and analyzed by nano-LC-MS. Nano-LC-MS data were time and m/z aligned across samples for relative peptide quantification. Among 11,433 aligned charge groups, 1360 relatively abundant ones were annotated by MS2, yielding 823 unique peptides. Analyses, including Pearson correlations of annotated LC-MS ion chromatograms, performed for all pairwise sample comparisons, identified several sources of technical variability: i) incomplete MAF and keratins; ii) globally- or segmentally-decreased ion current in isolated LC-MS analyses; and iii) oxidized methionine-containing peptides. Exclusion of these sources yielded 609 peptides representing 81 proteins. Most of these proteins showed very low coefficients of variation (CV<5%) whether they were quantified from the mean of all or only the 2 most-abundant peptides. Unsupervised clustering, using only 24 proteins selected for high subject variance, yielded perfect segregation of pooled and individual samples.
Quantitative label-free LC-MS/MS can measure scores of CSF proteins with low technical variability and can segregate samples according to desired criteria. Thus, this technique shows potential for biomarker discovery for neurological diseases.
PMCID: PMC3659127  PMID: 23700471
The Lancet. Neurology  2012;11(12):1048-1056.
We previously detected functional brain imaging abnormalities in young adults at genetic risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Here, we sought to characterize structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and plasma biomarker abnormalities in young adults at risk for autosomal dominant early-onset AD. Biomarker measurements were characterized and compared in presenilin 1 (PSEN1) E280A mutation carriers and non-carriers from the world’s largest known autosomal dominant early-onset AD kindred, more than two decades before the carriers’ estimated median age of 44 at the onset of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and before their estimated age of 28 at the onset of amyloid-β (Aβ) plaque deposition.
Biomarker data for this cross-sectional study were acquired in Antioquia, Colombia between July and August, 2010. Forty-four participants from the Colombian Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API) Registry had structural MRIs, functional MRIs during associative memory encoding/novel viewing and control tasks, and cognitive assessments. They included 20 mutation carriers and 24 non-carriers, who were cognitively normal, 18-26 years old and matched for their gender, age, and educational level. Twenty of the participants, including 10 mutation carriers and 10 non-carriers, had lumbar punctures and venipunctures. Primary outcome measures included task-dependent hippocampal/parahippocampal activations and precuneus/posterior cingulate deactivations, regional gray matter reductions, CSF Aβ1-42, total tau and phospho-tau181 levels, and plasma Aβ1-42 levels and Aβ1-42/Aβ1-40 ratios. Structural and functional MRI data were compared using automated brain mapping algorithms and AD-related search regions. Cognitive and fluid biomarkers were compared using Mann-Whitney tests.
The mutation carrier and non-carrier groups did not differ significantly in their dementia ratings, neuropsychological test scores, or proportion of apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 carriers. Compared to the non-carriers, carriers had higher CSF Aβ1-42 levels (p=0·008), plasma Aβ1-42 levels (p=0·01), and plasma Aβ1-42/Aβ1-40 ratios (p=0·001), consistent with Aβ1-42 overproduction. They also had greater hippocampal/parahippocampal activations (as low as p=0·008, after correction for multiple comparisons), less precuneus/posterior cingulate deactivations (as low as p=0·001, after correction), less gray matter in several regions (p-values <0·005, uncorrected, and corrected p=0·008 in the parietal search region), similar to findings in the later preclinical and clinical stages of autosomal dominant and late-onset AD.
Young adults at genetic risk for autosomal dominant AD have functional and structural MRI abnormalities, along with CSF and plasma biomarker findings consistent with Aβ1-42 over-production. While the extent to which the underlying brain changes are progressive or developmental remain to be determined, this study demonstrates the earliest known biomarker changes in cognitively normal people at genetic risk for autosomal dominant AD.
Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation, Nomis Foundation, Anonymous Foundation, Forget Me Not Initiative, Boston University Department of Psychology, Colciencias (1115-408-20512, 1115-545-31651), National Institute on Aging (R01 AG031581, P30 AG19610, UO1 AG024904, RO1 AG025526, RF1AG041705), National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (F31-NS078786) and state of Arizona.
PMCID: PMC4181671  PMID: 23137948
Alzheimer’s disease; biomarkers; preclinical; early-onset; dominantly inherited; MRI; functional MRI; cerebrospinal fluid; plasma; presenilin E280A mutation; amyloid; tau; genetics; prevention
8.  Relationship Between Stroop Performance and Resting State Functional Connectivity in Cognitively Normal Older Adults 
Neuropsychology  2013;27(5):10.1037/a0033402.
Early biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are needed for developing therapeutic interventions. Measures of attentional control in Stroop-type tasks discriminate healthy aging from early stage AD (Hutchison et al., 2010) and predict future development of AD (Balota et al., 2010) in cognitively normal individuals. Disruption in resting state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fcMRI) has been reported in AD (Greicius et al., 2004), and in healthy controls at risk for AD (Sheline et al, 2010a). We explored the relationship among Stroop performance, rs-fcMRI, and CSF Aβ42 levels in cognitively normal older adults.
A computerized Stroop task (along with standard neuropsychological measures), rs-fcMRI, and CSF were obtained in 237 cognitively normal older adults. We compared the relationship between Stroop performance, including measures from reaction distributional analyses, and composite scores from four resting state networks (RSNs) [default mode (DMN), salience (SAL), dorsal attention (DAN), and sensory motor (SMN)], and the modulatory influence of CSF Aβ42 levels.
A larger Stroop effect in errors was associated with reduced rs-fcMRI within the DMN and SAL. Reaction time distributional analyses indicated the slow tail of the reaction time distribution was related to reduced rs-fcMRI functional connectivity within the SAL. Standard psychometric measures were not related to RSN composite scores. A relationship between Stroop performance and DMN (but not SAL) functional connectivity was stronger in CSF Aβ42 positive individuals.
A link exists between RSN composite scores and specific attentional performance measures. Both measures may be sensitive biomarkers for AD.
PMCID: PMC3837537  PMID: 24040929
resting state functional connectivity; Stroop; Alzheimer’s disease
9.  Fluid Biomarkers in Alzheimer Disease 
Research progress has provided detailed understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease (AD). This knowledge has been translated into new drug candidates with putative disease-modifying effects, which are now being tested in clinical trials. The promise of effective therapy has created a great need for biomarkers able to detect AD in the predementia phase, because drugs will probably be effective only if neurodegeneration is not too advanced. In this chapter, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma biomarkers are reviewed. The core CSF biomarkers total tau (T-tau), phosphorylated tau (P-tau) and the 42 amino acid form of β-amyloid (Aβ42) reflect AD pathology, and have high diagnostic accuracy to diagnose AD with dementia and prodromal AD in mild cognitive impairment cases. The rationale for the use of CSF biomarkers to identify and monitor the mechanism of action of new drug candidates is also outlined in this chapter.
To effectively treat Alzheimer disease, biomarkers to diagnose the disease in the predementia phase are needed. Biomarkers from cerebrospinal fluid and plasma (e.g., tau and amyloid-β) show excellent diagnostic performance.
PMCID: PMC3426814  PMID: 22951438
10.  Preclinical Alzheimer disease and risk of falls 
Neurology  2013;81(5):437-443.
We determined the rate of falls among cognitively normal, community-dwelling older adults, some of whom had presumptive preclinical Alzheimer disease (AD) as detected by in vivo imaging of fibrillar amyloid plaques using Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) and PET and/or by assays of CSF to identify Aβ42, tau, and phosphorylated tau.
We conducted a 12-month prospective cohort study to examine the cumulative incidence of falls. Participants were evaluated clinically and underwent PiB PET imaging and lumbar puncture. Falls were reported monthly using an individualized calendar journal returned by mail. A Cox proportional hazards model was used to test whether time to first fall was associated with each biomarker and the ratio of CSF tau/Aβ42 and CSF phosphorylated tau/Aβ42, after adjustment for common fall risk factors.
The sample (n = 125) was predominately female (62.4%) and white (96%) with a mean age of 74.4 years. When controlled for ability to perform activities of daily living, higher levels of PiB retention (hazard ratio = 2.95 [95% confidence interval 1.01–6.45], p = 0.05) and of CSF biomarker ratios (p < 0.001) were associated with a faster time to first fall.
Presumptive preclinical AD is a risk factor for falls in older adults. This study suggests that subtle noncognitive changes that predispose older adults to falls are associated with AD and may precede detectable cognitive changes.
PMCID: PMC3776538  PMID: 23803314
11.  Amyloid imaging and CSF biomarkers in predicting cognitive impairment up to 7.5 years later 
Neurology  2013;80(19):1784-1791.
We compared the ability of molecular biomarkers for Alzheimer disease (AD), including amyloid imaging and CSF biomarkers (Aβ42, tau, ptau181, tau/Aβ42, ptau181/Aβ42), to predict time to incident cognitive impairment among cognitively normal adults aged 45 to 88 years and followed for up to 7.5 years.
Longitudinal data from Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center participants (N = 201) followed for a mean of 3.70 years (SD = 1.46 years) were used. Participants with amyloid imaging and CSF collection within 1 year of a clinical assessment indicating normal cognition were eligible. Cox proportional hazards models tested whether the individual biomarkers were related to time to incident cognitive impairment. “Expanded” models were developed using the biomarkers and participant demographic variables. The predictive values of the models were compared.
Abnormal levels of all biomarkers were associated with faster time to cognitive impairment, and some participants with abnormal biomarker levels remained cognitively normal for up to 6.6 years. No differences in predictive value were found between the individual biomarkers (p > 0.074), nor did we find differences between the expanded biomarker models (p > 0.312). Each expanded model better predicted incident cognitive impairment than the model containing the biomarker alone (p < 0.005).
Our results indicate that all AD biomarkers studied here predicted incident cognitive impairment, and support the hypothesis that biomarkers signal underlying AD pathology at least several years before the appearance of dementia symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3719431  PMID: 23576620
12.  Sleep quality and preclinical Alzheimer Disease 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(5):587-593.
Sleep and circadian problems are very common in Alzheimer Disease (AD). Recent animal studies suggest a bidirectional relationship between sleep and amyloid-β (Aβ), a key molecule involved in AD pathogenesis. This study tested whether Aβ deposition in preclinical AD, prior to the appearance of cognitive impairment, is associated with changes in quality or quantity of sleep.
Cognitively normal, middle-aged individuals (n=142) had sleep objectively measured using actigraphy for 2 weeks. Concurrent sleep diaries provided nap information. Cerebrospinal fluid Aβ42 levels were used to determine whether amyloid deposition was present or absent. Sleep parameters were assessed with regard to amyloid deposition.
Amyloid deposition was associated with worse sleep quality, specifically worse sleep efficiency (% time in bed that was spent asleep), compared to those without amyloid deposition. In contrast, quantity of sleep was not different between groups, as measured by total sleep time. Frequent napping was associated with amyloid deposition.
Amyloid deposition in the preclinical stage of AD appears to be associated with worse sleep quality, but not with changes in sleep quantity.
PMCID: PMC3676720  PMID: 23479184
13.  CSF biomarker variability in the Alzheimer’s Association quality control program 
The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers amyloid beta 1–42, total tau, and phosphorylated tau are used increasingly for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research and patient management. However, there are large variations in biomarker measurements among and within laboratories.
Data from the first nine rounds of the Alzheimer’s Association quality control program was used to define the extent and sources of analytical variability. In each round, three CSF samples prepared at the Clinical Neurochemistry Laboratory (Mölndal, Sweden) were analyzed by single-analyte enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), a multiplexing xMAP assay, or an immunoassay with electrochemoluminescence detection.
A total of 84 laboratories participated. Coefficients of variation (CVs) between laboratories were around 20% to 30%; within-run CVs, less than 5% to 10%; and longitudinal within-laboratory CVs, 5% to 19%. Interestingly, longitudinal within-laboratory CV differed between biomarkers at individual laboratories, suggesting that a component of it was assay dependent. Variability between kit lots and between laboratories both had a major influence on amyloid beta 1–42 measurements, but for total tau and phosphorylated tau, between-kit lot effects were much less than between-laboratory effects. Despite the measurement variability, the between-laboratory consistency in classification of samples (using prehoc-derived cutoffs for AD) was high (>90% in 15 of 18 samples for ELISA and in 12 of 18 samples for xMAP).
The overall variability remains too high to allow assignment of universal biomarker cutoff values for a specific intended use. Each laboratory must ensure longitudinal stability in its measurements and use internally qualified cutoff levels. Further standardization of laboratory procedures and improvement of kit performance will likely increase the usefulness of CSF AD biomarkers for researchers and clinicians.
PMCID: PMC3707386  PMID: 23622690
Alzheimer’s disease; Cerebrospinal fluid; Biomarkers; External assurance; Quality control; Proficiency testing
14.  GWAS of cerebrospinal fluid tau levels identifies novel risk variants for Alzheimer’s disease 
Neuron  2013;78(2):256-268.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau, tau phosphorylated at threonine 181 (ptau) and Aβ42 are established biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), and have been used as quantitative traits for genetic analyses. We performed the largest genome-wide association study for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau/ptau levels published to date (n=1,269), identifying three novel genome-wide significant loci for CSF tau and ptau: rs9877502 (P=4.89×10−9 for tau) located at 3q28 between GEMC1 and OSTN, rs514716 (P=1.07×10−8 and P=3.22×10−9 for tau and ptau respectively), located at 9p24.2 within GLIS3 and rs6922617 (P = 3.58×10−8 for CSF ptau) at 6p21.1 within the TREM gene cluster, a region recently reported to harbor rare variants that increase AD risk. In independent datasets rs9877502 showed a strong association with risk for AD, tangle pathology and global cognitive decline (P=2.67×10−4, 0.039, 4.86×10−5 respectively) illustrating how this endophenotype-based approach can be used to identify new AD risk loci.
PMCID: PMC3664945  PMID: 23562540
15.  Cerebrospinal fluid amyloid β42, phosphorylated tau181, and resting state functional connectivity 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(10):1242-1248.
Resting state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fcMRI) has great potential for characterizing pathophysiological changes during the preclinical phase of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
To assess the relationship between default mode network (DMN) integrity and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers of AD pathology in cognitively normal older individuals
Cross-sectional cohort study
Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri.
207 older adults with normal cognition (Clinical Dementia Rating of 0).
Main Outcome measures
rs-fcMRI measures of DMN integrity.
Decreased CSF Aβ42 or increased CSF phosphorylated tau181 (ptau181) were independently associated with reduced DMN integrity, with the most prominent decreases in functional connectivity observed between the posterior cingulate and medial temporal regions. Observed reductions in functional connectivity were not attributable to age or structural atrophy in the posterior cingulate and medial temporal areas. Similar rs-fcMRI findings in relation to CSF biomarkers were obtained using region-of-interest analyses and voxel-wise correlation mapping.
Both Aβ and tau pathology affect DMN integrity prior to clinical onset of AD.
PMCID: PMC3836828  PMID: 23959173
16.  Comparison of analytical platforms for cerebrospinal fluid measures of Aβ1-42, total tau and p-tau181 for identifying Alzheimer’s disease amyloid plaque pathology 
Archives of neurology  2011;68(9):1137-1144.
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.
PMCID: PMC3154969  PMID: 21555603
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid; biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluid; imaging (PET, MRI) in dementias; Pittsburgh Compound B
17.  Cerebrospinal fluid APOE levels: an endophenotype for genetic studies for Alzheimer's disease 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(20):4558-4571.
The apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype is the major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). We have access to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma APOE protein levels from 641 individuals and genome-wide genotyped data from 570 of these samples. The aim of this study was to test whether CSF or plasma APOE levels could be a useful endophenotype for AD and to identify genetic variants associated with APOE levels. We found that CSF (P = 8.15 × 10−4) but not plasma (P = 0.071) APOE protein levels are significantly associated with CSF Aβ42 levels. We used Mendelian randomization and genetic variants as instrumental variables to confirm that the association of CSF APOE with CSF Aβ42 levels and clinical dementia rating (CDR) is not because of a reverse causation or confounding effect. In addition the association of CSF APOE with Aβ42 levels was independent of the APOE ɛ4 genotype, suggesting that APOE levels in CSF may be a useful endophenotype for AD. We performed a genome-wide association study to identify genetic variants associated with CSF APOE levels: the APOE ɛ4 genotype was the strongest single-genetic factor associated with CSF APOE protein levels (P = 6.9 × 10−13). In aggregate, the Illumina chip single nucleotide polymorphisms explain 72% of the variability in CSF APOE protein levels, whereas the APOE ɛ4 genotype alone explains 8% of the variability. No other genetic variant reached the genome-wide significance threshold, but nine additional variants exhibited a P-value <10−6. Pathway mining analysis indicated that these nine additional loci are involved in lipid metabolism (P = 4.49 × 10−9).
PMCID: PMC3459471  PMID: 22821396
18.  CSF Proteins Predict Longitudinal Hippocampal Degeneration in Early Stage Dementia of the Alzheimer Type 
Biomarkers are needed to improve the sensitivity and accuracy of diagnosis as well as prognosis in individuals with early Alzheimer disease (AD). Measures of brain structure and disease-related proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) have been proposed as biomarkers, yet relatively little is known about the relationships between such measures. The present study was conducted to assess the relationship between CSF Aβ and tau protein levels and longitudinal measures of hippocampal structure in individuals with and without very mild dementia of the Alzheimer type.
A single CSF sample and longitudinal MR scans were collected. The CSF samples were assayed for tau, p-tau181, Aβ1–42 and Aβ1–40 by ELISA. Large-deformation diffeomorphic metric mapping was used to generate hippocampal surfaces, and a composite hippocampal surface (previously constructed from 86 healthy participants) was used as a structural reference.
Patients or Other Participants
13 participants with very mild AD (Clinical Dementia Rating, CDR 0.5) and 11 cognitively normal participants (CDR 0).
Main Outcome Measures
Initial and rate-of-change measures of total hippocampal volume and displacement of the hippocampal surface within zones overlying the CA1, subiculum and CA2-4+DG cellular subfields. Their correlations with initial CSF measures.
Lower CSF Aβ1–42 levels and higher tau/Aβ1–42 and p-tau181/Aβ1–42 ratios were strongly correlated with decreases in hippocampal volume and measure of progressive inward deformations of the CA1 subfield in participants with early AD, but not cognitively normal participants.
Despite small sample size, we found that Aβ1–42 and tau-related CSF measures were related to hippocampal degeneration in individuals with clinically diagnosed early AD, and may reflect an association with a common underlying disease mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3309103  PMID: 22156755
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI); Hippocampal subfields; β-Amyloid; Tau; P-Tau; biomarkers
19.  Toward a multifactorial model of Alzheimer disease 
Neurobiology of aging  2012;33(10):2262-2271.
Relations among antecedant biomarkers of AD were evaluated using causal modeling; although correlation cannot be equated to causation, causation does require correlation. Individuals aged 43 to 89 years (N = 220) enrolled as cognitively normal controls in longitudinal studies had clinical and psychometric assessment, structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers, and brain amyloid imaging via positron emission tomography with Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB) obtained within 1 year. CSF levels of Aβ42 and tau were minimally correlated, indicating they represent independent processes. Aβ42, tau, and their interaction explained 60% of the variance in PIB. Effects of APOE genotype and age on PIB were indirect, operating through CSF markers. Only spurious relations via their common relation with age were found between the biomarkers and regional brain volumes or cognition. Hence, at least two independent hypothesized processes, one reflected by CSF Aβ42 and one by CSF tau, contribute to the development of fibrillar amyloid plaques preclinically. The lack of correlation between these two processes and brain volume in the regions most often affected in AD suggests the operation of a third process related to brain atrophy.
PMCID: PMC3334456  PMID: 22261556
preclinical Alzheimer disease; amyloid-β; tau; PIB; amyloid plaque; APOE; brain volumetry; memory; biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluid
20.  Developing an international network for Alzheimer research: The Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network 
Clinical investigation  2012;2(10):975-984.
The Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) is a collaborative effort of international Alzheimer disease (AD) centers that are conducting a multifaceted prospective biomarker study in individuals at-risk for autosomal dominant AD (ADAD). DIAN collects comprehensive information and tissue in accordance with standard protocols from asymptomatic and symptomatic ADAD mutation carriers and their non-carrier family members to determine the pathochronology of clinical, cognitive, neuroimaging, and fluid biomarkers of AD. This article describes the structure, implementation, and underlying principles of DIAN, as well as the demographic features of the initial DIAN cohort.
PMCID: PMC3489185  PMID: 23139856
Alzheimer disease; autosomal dominant; biomarkers of Alzheimer disease; PSEN1; PSEN2; APP; amyloid-beta; preclinical Alzheimer disease
21.  Plasma multianalyte profiling in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease 
Neurology  2012;79(9):897-905.
While plasma biomarkers have been proposed to aid in the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer disease (AD), few biomarkers have been validated in independent patient cohorts. Here we aim to determine plasma biomarkers associated with AD in 2 independent cohorts and validate the findings in the multicenter Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI).
Using a targeted proteomic approach, we measured levels of 190 plasma proteins and peptides in 600 participants from 2 independent centers (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Washington University, St. Louis, MO), and identified 17 analytes associated with the diagnosis of very mild dementia/mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or AD. Four analytes (apoE, B-type natriuretic peptide, C-reactive protein, pancreatic polypeptide) were also found to be altered in clinical MCI/AD in the ADNI cohort (n = 566). Regression analysis showed CSF Aβ42 levels and t-tau/Aβ42 ratios to correlate with the number of APOE4 alleles and plasma levels of B-type natriuretic peptide and pancreatic polypeptide.
Four plasma analytes were consistently associated with the diagnosis of very mild dementia/MCI/AD in 3 independent clinical cohorts. These plasma biomarkers may predict underlying AD through their association with CSF AD biomarkers, and the association between plasma and CSF amyloid biomarkers needs to be confirmed in a prospective study.
PMCID: PMC3425844  PMID: 22855860
22.  The PSEN1, p.E318G Variant Increases the Risk of Alzheimer's Disease in APOE-ε4 Carriers 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(8):e1003685.
The primary constituents of plaques (Aβ42/Aβ40) and neurofibrillary tangles (tau and phosphorylated forms of tau [ptau]) are the current leading diagnostic and prognostic cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers for AD. In this study, we performed deep sequencing of APP, PSEN1, PSEN2, GRN, APOE and MAPT genes in individuals with extreme CSF Aβ42, tau, or ptau levels. One known pathogenic mutation (PSEN1 p.A426P), four high-risk variants for AD (APOE p.L46P, MAPT p.A152T, PSEN2 p.R62H and p.R71W) and nine novel variants were identified. Surprisingly, a coding variant in PSEN1, p.E318G (rs17125721-G) exhibited a significant association with high CSF tau (p = 9.2×10−4) and ptau (p = 1.8×10−3) levels. The association of the p.E318G variant with Aβ deposition was observed in APOE-ε4 allele carriers. Furthermore, we found that in a large case-control series (n = 5,161) individuals who are APOE-ε4 carriers and carry the p.E318G variant are at a risk of developing AD (OR = 10.7, 95% CI = 4.7–24.6) that is similar to APOE-ε4 homozygous (OR = 9.9, 95% CI = 7.2.9–13.6), and double the risk for APOE-ε4 carriers that do not carry p.E318G (OR = 3.9, 95% CI = 3.4–4.4). The p.E318G variant is present in 5.3% (n = 30) of the families from a large clinical series of LOAD families (n = 565) and exhibited a higher frequency in familial LOAD (MAF = 2.5%) than in sporadic LOAD (MAF = 1.6%) (p = 0.02). Additionally, we found that in the presence of at least one APOE-ε4 allele, p.E318G is associated with more Aβ plaques and faster cognitive decline. We demonstrate that the effect of PSEN1, p.E318G on AD susceptibility is largely dependent on an interaction with APOE-ε4 and mediated by an increased burden of Aβ deposition.
Author Summary
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disease affecting more than 5.3 million people in the US. AD-causing mutations have been identified in APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2 genes. Heterozygous carriers of APOE-ε4 allele exhibit a 3-fold increased risk for developing AD, while homozygous carriers show a 10-fold greater risk than non-carriers. Here, we sequenced individuals with extreme levels of well-established AD cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers in order to identify variants in APOE, APP, PSEN1, PSEN2, GRN and MAPT genes associated with AD risk. This approach allowed us to identify known pathogenic variants, additional AD risk genetic factors and identify a low frequency variant in PSEN1, p.E318G (rs17125721-G) that increases risk for AD in a gene-gene interaction with APOE. These findings were replicated in three large (>4,000 individuals) and independent datasets. This finding is particularly important because we demonstrated that a currently considered non-pathogenic variant is associated with higher levels of neuronal degeneration, and with Aβ deposition, more Aβ plaques and faster cognitive decline in an APOE-ε4-dependent fashion. APOE-ε4 heterozygous individuals who carry this variant are at similar AD risk as APOE-ε4 homozygous individuals.
PMCID: PMC3750021  PMID: 23990795
23.  Decreased CSF Aβ42 correlates with brain atrophy in cognitively normal elderly 
Annals of neurology  2009;65(2):176-183.
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.
PMCID: PMC2763631  PMID: 19260027
Alzheimer's disease; amyloid-β; biomarker; brain atrophy; cerebrospinal fluid; MRI; preclinical AD; tau
24.  Cerebrospinal fluid tau and ptau181 increase with cortical amyloid deposition in cognitively normal individuals: Implications for future clinical trials of Alzheimer's disease 
EMBO molecular medicine  2009;1(8-9):371-380.
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.
PMCID: PMC2806678  PMID: 20049742
Amyloid; biomarker; cerebrospinal fluid; Pittsburgh Compound B; preclinical Alzheimer's disease
25.  The Alzheimer’s Association external quality control program for cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers 
Mattsson, Niklas | Andreasson, Ulf | Persson, Staffan | Arai, Hiroyuki | Batish, Sat Dev | Bernardini, Sergio | Bocchio-Chiavetto, Luisella | Blankenstein, Marinus A. | Carrillo, Maria C. | Chalbot, Sonia | Coart, Els | Chiasserini, Davide | Cutler, Neal | Dahlfors, Gunilla | Duller, Stefan | Fagan, Anne M. | Forlenza, Orestes | Frisoni, Giovanni B. | Galasko, Douglas | Galimberti, Daniela | Hampel, Harald | Handberg, Aase | Heneka, Michael T. | Herskovits, Adrianna Z. | Herukka, Sanna-Kaisa | Holtzman, David M. | Humpel, Christian | Hyman, Bradley T. | Iqbal, Khalid | Jucker, Mathias | Kaeser, Stephan A. | Kaiser, Elmar | Kapaki, Elisabeth | Kidd, Daniel | Klivenyi, Peter | Knudsen, Cindy S. | Kummer, Markus P. | Lui, James | Lladó, Albert | Lewczuk, Piotr | Li, Qiao-Xin | Martins, Ralph | Masters, Colin | McAuliffe, John | Mercken, Marc | Moghekar, Abhay | Molinuevo, José Luis | Montine, Thomas J. | Nowatzke, William | O’Brien, Richard | Otto, Markus | Paraskevas, George P. | Parnetti, Lucilla | Petersen, Ronald C. | Prvulovic, David | de Reus, Herman P. M. | Rissman, Robert A. | Scarpini, Elio | Stefani, Alessandro | Soininen, Hilkka | Schröder, Johannes | Shaw, Leslie M. | Skinningsrud, Anders | Skrogstad, Brith | Spreer, Annette | Talib, Leda | Teunissen, Charlotte | Trojanowski, John Q. | Tumani, Hayrettin | Umek, Robert M. | Van Broeck, Bianca | Vanderstichele, Hugo | Vecsei, Laszlo | Verbeek, Marcel M. | Windisch, Manfred | Zhang, Jing | Zetterberg, Henrik | Blennow, Kaj
The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers amyloid β (Aβ)-42, total-tau (T-tau), and phosphorylated-tau (P-tau) demonstrate good diagnostic accuracy for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, there are large variations in biomarker measurements between studies, and between and within laboratories. The Alzheimer’s Association has initiated a global quality control program to estimate and monitor variability of measurements, quantify batch-to-batch assay variations, and identify sources of variability. In this article, we present the results from the first two rounds of the program.
The program is open for laboratories using commercially available kits for Aβ, T-tau, or P-tau. CSF samples (aliquots of pooled CSF) are sent for analysis several times a year from the Clinical Neurochemistry Laboratory at the Molndal campus of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Each round consists of three quality control samples.
Forty laboratories participated. Twenty-six used INNOTESTenzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits, 14 used Luminex xMAP with the INNO-BIA AlzBio3 kit (both measure Aβ-(1-42), P-tau(181P), and T-tau), and 5 used Meso Scale Discovery with the Aβ triplex (AβN-42, AβN-40, and AβN-38) or T-tau kits. The total coefficients of variation between the laboratories were 13% to 36%. Five laboratories analyzed the samples six times on different occasions. Within-laboratory precisions differed considerably between biomarkers within individual laboratories.
Measurements of CSF AD biomarkers show large between-laboratory variability, likely caused by factors related to analytical procedures and the analytical kits. Standardization of laboratory procedures and efforts by kit vendors to increase kit performance might lower variability, and will likely increase the usefulness of CSF AD biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3710290  PMID: 21784349
Alzheimer’s disease; Cerebrospinal fluid; Biomarkers; External assurance; External control; Proficiency testing

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