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1.  SNAP-25 is a promising novel cerebrospinal fluid biomarker for synapse degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease 
Synaptic degeneration is an early pathogenic event in Alzheimer’s disease, associated with cognitive impairment and disease progression. Cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers reflecting synaptic integrity would be highly valuable tools to monitor synaptic degeneration directly in patients. We previously showed that synaptic proteins such as synaptotagmin and synaptosomal-associated protein 25 (SNAP-25) could be detected in pooled samples of cerebrospinal fluid, however these assays were not sensitive enough for individual samples.
We report a new strategy to study synaptic pathology by using affinity purification and mass spectrometry to measure the levels of the presynaptic protein SNAP-25 in cerebrospinal fluid. By applying this novel affinity mass spectrometry strategy on three separate cohorts of patients, the value of SNAP-25 as a cerebrospinal fluid biomarker for synaptic integrity in Alzheimer’s disease was assessed for the first time. We found significantly higher levels of cerebrospinal fluid SNAP-25 fragments in Alzheimer’s disease, even in the very early stages, in three separate cohorts. Cerebrospinal fluid SNAP-25 differentiated Alzheimer’s disease from controls with area under the curve of 0.901 (P < 0.0001).
We developed a sensitive method to analyze SNAP-25 levels in individual CSF samples that to our knowledge was not possible previously. Our results support the notion that synaptic biomarkers may be important tools for early diagnosis, assessment of disease progression, and to monitor drug effects in treatment trials.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1750-1326-9-53) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4253625  PMID: 25418885
Alzheimer’s disease; Biomarker; Cerebrospinal fluid; SNAP-25; SNARE proteins; Mass spectrometry; Immunopurification; Selected reaction monitoring
2.  Solitary living in Alzheimer’s disease over 3 years: association between cognitive and functional impairment and community-based services 
Many individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) live alone, and this figure is expected to increase. This study aimed to describe the cognitive and functional abilities of solitary-living AD patients, and the potential predictors of their usage of community-based services.
This 3-year, prospective, multicenter study included 1,021 participants with mild-to-moderate AD (Mini-Mental State Examination score, 10–26) treated with a cholinesterase inhibitor in a routine clinical setting. At baseline and every 6 months, patients were assessed using cognitive, instrumental, and basic activities of daily living (ADL) scales, and service utilization was recorded. Logistic regression models were used to predict the usage of community-based services.
At the start of cholinesterase inhibitor therapy (time of AD diagnosis), 355 individuals (35%) were living alone. They were mainly female, older, had more impaired basic ADL capacity, and had a larger number of concomitant medications when compared with those living with family. Regarding the solitary-living patients, lower instrumental ADL (IADL) ability and more medications were independent predictors of usage of home-help services, whereas more impaired IADL at baseline and faster IADL deterioration were predictors of nursing home admission. For those living with family, older age, lower basic ADL, and a greater number of medications predicted home-help services, whereas a larger amount of home help predicted nursing home placement. In addition, female sex was a risk factor for both the utilization of home-help services and nursing home placement. Cognitive ability was not significantly associated with the usage of community-based services.
A large number of AD patients, predominantly females, live alone with severe cognitive and functional impairment. The amount of home-help services used did not reflect cognitive severity, suggesting that home help did not meet the needs related to cognitive deterioration. Increased knowledge of how community-based services can better accommodate the care needs of solitary-living individuals with AD is essential.
PMCID: PMC4238751  PMID: 25484578
cognition; activities of daily living; living status; home-help services; nursing home placement; longitudinal study
3.  Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines Reduce the Proliferation of NG2 Cells and Increase Shedding of NG2 In Vivo and In Vitro 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109387.
Neuron glial 2 (NG2) cells become strongly activated in injured brain areas. The activation is characterized by increased proliferation as well as increased expression and shedding of the proteoglycan NG2 expressed on their cell surface. It is currently not known how these cells respond to low-grade neuroinflammation provoked by systemic inflammation. To investigate this, we analyzed NG2 cell proliferation as well as soluble NG2 (sNG2) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from rats treated with an acute intraperitoneal (i.p) injection of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) or saline and sacrificed after 2 or 24 hours. The systemically induced neuroinflammation was confirmed as elevated levels of cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-1β, and MHCII expressing microglia were found 24 h after LPS treatment. At this time point NG2 cell proliferation was significantly decreased in both amygdala and hippocampus and sNG2 levels in CSF were increased twofold. We also exposed human NG2 cells in culture to IL-6 and IL-1β for 24 h and found, in line with our in vivo study, a direct impact of these cytokines reducing cell proliferation and increasing shedding of NG2. We conclude that LPS induced systemic inflammation significantly affects NG2 cell proliferation and shedding and that these two events at least in in part are mediated by IL-6 and IL-1β.
PMCID: PMC4186831  PMID: 25285951
4.  Response to cholinesterase inhibitors affects lifespan in Alzheimer’s disease 
BMC Neurology  2014;14(1):173.
A varying response to cholinesterase inhibitor (ChEI) treatment has been reported among patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Whether the individual-specific response, specific ChEI agent or dose affects mortality is unclear. We aimed to examine the relationship between the 6-month response to ChEI and lifespan.
Six hundred and eighty-one deceased patients with a clinical AD diagnosis and a Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score of 10–26 at the start of ChEI therapy (baseline) were included in a prospective, observational, multicentre study in clinical practice. At baseline and after 6 months of treatment, the participants were assessed using the MMSE, the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog), the Clinician’s Interview-Based Impression of Change (CIBIC), the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) scale, and the Physical Self-Maintenance Scale (PSMS). The individuals’ socio-demographic characteristics, ChEI dose, and date of death were recorded. Responses to ChEI and the association of possible risk factors with survival were analysed using general linear models.
A longer lifespan (mean of 0.5 years) was observed among the improved/unchanged patients, as measured by MMSE or CIBIC score, but not by ADAS-cog score, after 6 months of ChEI therapy. In the multivariate models, increased survival time was independently related to a better 6-month response in MMSE, CIBIC, IADL, and PSMS scores, female sex, no antihypertensive/cardiac or antidiabetic therapy, younger age, lower education, milder disease stage at baseline, and higher ChEI dose. Apolipoprotein E genotype did not affect mortality significantly. The patients who received a higher ChEI dose during the first 6 months had a mean lifespan after baseline that was 15 months longer than that of those who received a lower dose.
A better short-term response to ChEI might prolong survival in naturalistic AD patients. In individuals who received and tolerated higher ChEI doses, a longer lifespan can be expected.
PMCID: PMC4172846  PMID: 25213579
Alzheimer’s disease; Cholinesterase inhibitors; Treatment effect; Life expectancy; Survival; Cognition; Activities of daily living; Predictors; Statistical models
5.  Treatment effect of memantine on survival in dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease with dementia: a prospective study 
BMJ Open  2014;4(7):e005158.
To investigate the effect on survival of treatment with memantine in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson's disease with dementia (PDD).
75 patients with DLB and PDD were included in a prospective double-blinded randomised placebo-controlled trial (RCT) of memantine, of whom long-term follow-up was available for 42. Treatment response was recorded 24 weeks from baseline and measured by Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC). The participants were grouped as responders (CGIC 1–3) or non-responders (CGIC 4–7). The 24-week RCT was followed by open-label treatment and survival was recorded at 36 months.
After 36-month follow-up, patients in the memantine group had a longer length of survival compared with patients in the placebo group (log rank x²=4.02, p=0.045). Within the active treatment group, survival analysis 36 months from baseline showed that the memantine responders, based on CGIC, had higher rates of survival compared with the non-responders (log rank x²=6.595, p=0.010). Similar results were not seen in the placebo group.
Early treatment with memantine and a positive clinical response to memantine predicted longer survival in patients with DLB and PDD. This suggests a possible disease-modifying effect and also has implications for health economic analysis. However, owing to the small study sample, our results should merely be considered as generating a hypothesis which needs to be evaluated in larger studies.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC4091277  PMID: 24993765
6.  Levels of cerebrospinal fluid α-synuclein oligomers are increased in Parkinson’s disease with dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies compared to Alzheimer’s disease 
The objective was to study whether α-synuclein oligomers are altered in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with dementia, including Parkinson disease with dementia (PDD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and Alzheimer disease (AD), compared with age-matched controls.
In total, 247 CSF samples were assessed in this study, including 71 patients with DLB, 30 patients with PDD, 48 patients with AD, and 98 healthy age-matched controls. Both total and oligomeric α-synuclein levels were evaluated by using well-established immunoassays.
The levels of α-synuclein oligomers in the CSF were increased in patients with PDD compared with the controls (P < 0.05), but not in patients with DLB compared with controls. Interestingly, the levels of α-synuclein oligomers in the CSF were also significantly higher in patients with PDD (P < 0.01) and DLB (P < 0.05) compared with patients with AD. The levels of CSF α-synuclein oligomers and the ratio of oligomeric/total-α-synuclein could distinguish DLB or PDD patients from AD patients, with areas under the curves (AUCs) of 0.64 and 0.75, respectively. In addition, total-α-synuclein alone could distinguish DLB or PDD patients from AD patients, with an AUC of 0.80.
The levels of α-synuclein oligomers were increased in the CSF from α-synucleinopathy patients with dementia compared with AD cases.
PMCID: PMC4075410  PMID: 24987465
7.  Kynurenic Acid Levels in Cerebrospinal Fluid from Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia with Lewy Bodies 
Kynurenic acid (KYNA) is implicated in cognitive functions. Altered concentrations of the compound are found in serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Further studies to determine whether KYNA serves as a biomarker for cognitive decline and dementia progression are required. In this study, we measured CSF KYNA levels in AD patients (n = 19), patients with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) (n = 18), and healthy age-matched controls (Ctrls)) (n = 20) to further explore possible correlations between KYNA levels, cognitive decline, and well-established AD and inflammatory markers. Neither DLB patients nor AD patients showed significantly altered CSF KYNA levels compared to Ctrls. However, female AD patients displayed significantly higher KYNA levels compared to male AD patients, a gender difference not seen in the Ctrl or DLB group. Levels of KYNA significantly correlated with the AD-biomarker P-tau and the inflammation marker soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) in the AD patient group. No associations between KYNA and cognitive functions were found. Our study shows that, although KYNA was not associated with cognitive decline in AD or DLB patients, it may be implicated in AD-related hyperphosphorylation of tau and inflammation. Further studies on larger patient cohorts are required to understand the potential role of KYNA in AD and DLB.
PMCID: PMC4011721  PMID: 24855376
Alzheimer’s disease; astrocyte markers; cognition; dementia with Lewy bodies; kynurenic acid; inflammation
8.  Changes in cerebrospinal fluid and blood plasma levels of IGF-II and its binding proteins in Alzheimer’s disease: an observational study 
BMC Neurology  2014;14:64.
The Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF)-related system is implicated in neuroregeneration and cell repair, as well as regulating lifespan. IGF-II, one component of this system, has also been found to affect memory functions in a rat model. In this study we explored changes in the IGF-related system in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), including changes in IGF-II levels.
We measured blood plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of IGF-I, IGF-II, IGFBP-2 and IGFBP-3 in 72 healthy controls and 92 patients with AD.
We found significantly lower blood plasma levels of IGF-II and IGFBP-3 in patients with AD, compared with controls. The levels of IGF-II and IGFBP-2 were significantly elevated in the CSF from patients with AD. We also found correlations between established CSF biomarkers for AD (tau and P-tau) and components of the IGF system.
CSF and blood plasma levels of IGF-II and some of its binding proteins are changed in patients with AD. Further investigation into this area may unravel important clues to the nature of this disease.
PMCID: PMC3973836  PMID: 24685003
Alzheimer Disease; Dementia; Cerebrospinal fluid; Blood plasma; IGF-I; IGF-II; IGFBP-2; IGFBP-3; Insulin
9.  Progression of mild Alzheimer’s disease: knowledge and prediction models required for future treatment strategies 
Knowledge of longitudinal progression in mild Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is required for the evaluation of disease-modifying therapies. Our aim was to observe the effects of long-term cholinesterase inhibitor (ChEI) therapy in mild AD patients in a routine clinical setting.
This was a prospective, open-label, non-randomized, multicenter study of ChEI treatment (donepezil, rivastigmine or galantamine) conducted during clinical practice. The 734 mild AD patients (Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score 20 to 26) were assessed at baseline and then semi-annually over three years. Outcome measures included the MMSE, Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog), Clinician’s Interview-Based Impression of Change (CIBIC) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) scale.
After three years of ChEI therapy, 31% (MMSE) and 33% (ADAS-cog) of the patients showed improved/unchanged cognitive ability, 33% showed improved/unchanged global performance and 14% showed improved/unchanged IADL capacity. Higher mean dose of ChEI and lower educational level were both predictors of more positive longitudinal cognitive and functional outcomes. Older participants and those with a better IADL score at baseline exhibited a slower rate of cognitive decline, whereas younger participants and those with higher cognitive status showed more preserved IADL ability over time. Gender and apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype showed inconsistent results. Prediction models using the abovementioned scales are presented.
In naturalistic mild AD patients, a marked deterioration in IADL compared with cognitive and global long-term outcomes was observed, indicating the importance of functional assessments during the early stages of the disease. The participants’ time on ChEI treatment before inclusion in studies of new therapies might affect their rate of decline and thus the comparisons of changes in scores between various studies. An increased understanding of expected disease progression in different domains and potential predictors of disease progression is essential for assessment of future therapies in AD.
PMCID: PMC3978889  PMID: 24099236
11.  Multidisciplinary intervention reducing readmissions in medical inpatients: a prospective, non-randomized study 
The purpose of this study was to examine whether a multidisciplinary intervention targeting drug-related problems, cognitive impairment, and discharge miscommunication could reduce readmissions in a general hospital population.
This prospective, non-randomized intervention study was carried out at the department of general internal medicine at a tertiary university hospital. Two hundred medical inpatients living in the community and aged over 60 years were included. Ninety-nine patients received interventions and 101 received standard care. Control/intervention allocation was determined by geographic selection. Interventions consisted of a comprehensive medication review, improved discharge planning, post-discharge telephone follow-up, and liaison with the patient’s general practitioner. The main outcome measures recorded were readmissions and hospital nights 12 months after discharge. Separate analyses were made for 12-month survivors and from an intention-to-treat perspective. Comparative analyses were made between groups as well as within groups over time.
After 12 months, survivors in the control group had 125 readmissions in total, compared with 58 in the intervention group (Mann–Whitney U test, P = 0.02). For hospital nights, the numbers were 1,228 and 492, respectively (P = 0.009). Yearly admissions had increased from the previous year in the control group from 77 to 125 (Wilcoxon signed-rank test, P = 0.002) and decreased from 75 to 58 in the intervention group (P = 0.25). From the intention-to-treat perspective, the same general pattern was observed but was not significant (1,827 versus 1,008 hospital nights, Mann–Whitney test, P = 0.054).
A multidisciplinary approach, targeting several different areas, could substantially lower readmissions and hospital costs in a non-terminal general hospital population.
PMCID: PMC3791960  PMID: 24106422
medical inpatients; hospital readmissions; intervention; drug-related problems; cognitive impairment; hospital discharge
12.  Evaluating Amyloid-β Oligomers in Cerebrospinal Fluid as a Biomarker for Alzheimer’s Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66381.
The current study evaluated amyloid-β oligomers (Aβo) in cerebrospinal fluid as a clinical biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We developed a highly sensitive Aβo ELISA using the same N-terminal monoclonal antibody (82E1) for capture and detection. CSF samples from patients with AD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and healthy controls were examined. The assay was specific for oligomerized Aβ with a lower limit of quantification of 200 fg/ml, and the assay signal showed a tight correlation with synthetic Aβo levels. Three clinical materials of well characterized AD patients (n = 199) and cognitively healthy controls (n = 148) from different clinical centers were included, together with a clinical material of patients with MCI (n = 165). Aβo levels were elevated in the all three AD-control comparisons although with a large overlap and a separation from controls that was far from complete. Patients with MCI who later converted to AD had increased Aβo levels on a group level but several samples had undetectable levels. These results indicate that presence of high or measurable Aβo levels in CSF is clearly associated with AD, but the overlap is too large for the test to have any diagnostic potential on its own.
PMCID: PMC3682966  PMID: 23799095
13.  NG2 cells, a new trail for Alzheimer’s disease mechanisms? 
Neuron Glial 2 (NG2) cells are glial cells known to serve as oligodendrocyte progenitors as well as modulators of the neuronal network. Altered NG2 cell morphology and up-regulation as well as increased shedding of the proteoglycan NG2 expressed on the cell surface have been described in rodent models of brain injury. Here we describe alterations in the human NG2 cell population in response to pathological changes characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Immunohistological stainings of postmortem brain specimens from clinically diagnosed and postmortem verified AD patients and non-demented controls revealed reduced NG2 immunoreactivity as well as large numbers of NG2 positive astrocytes in individuals with high amyloid beta plaque load. Since fibrillar amyloid beta (Aβ)1-42 is the major component of AD-related senile plaques, we exposed human NG2 cells to oligomer- and fibril enriched preparations of Aβ1-42. We found that both oligomeric and fibrillar Aβ1-42 induced changes in NG2 cell morphology. Further, in vitro exposure to fibrillar Aβ1-42 decreased the NG2 concentrations in both cell lysates and supernatants. Interestingly, we also found significantly decreased levels of soluble NG2 in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from clinically diagnosed AD patients compared to non-demented individuals. Additionally, the CSF NG2 levels were found to significantly correlate with the core AD biomarkers Aß1-42, T-tau and P-tau.
Our results demonstrate major alterations in the NG2 cell population in relation to AD pathology which highlights the NG2 cell population as a new attractive research target in the search for cellular mechanisms associated with AD pathogenesis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/2051-5960-1-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4046664  PMID: 24252600
NG2 cells; Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid beta; Cerebrospinal fluid; Brain tissue; Cell culture
14.  Tau Pathology and Parietal White Matter Lesions Have Independent but Synergistic Effects on Early Development of Alzheimer's Disease 
White matter lesions (WMLs) are a common finding in patients with dementia. This study investigates the relationship between WMLs, hyperphosphorylated tau (P-tau) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 genotype in prodromal Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Baseline levels of tau, P-tau and β-amyloid 1-42 in CSF, the presence of WMLs in the brain, and the APOE genotype were ascertained in 159 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and 38 cognitively healthy controls.
After 5.7 years, 58 patients had developed AD. In this group, patients with normal levels of CSF P-tau had higher levels of WMLs in the parietal regions than those with pathological P-tau levels (p < 0.05). Also, patients without APOE ε4 alleles had more WMLs in the parietal lobes than those with at least one allele (p < 0.05). MCI patients with pathological P-tau levels and parietal WMLs showed a greater risk of developing AD than those with just one of the two pathological parameters.
We suggest that WMLs in parietal lobes and tau pathology likely have independent but synergistic effects on the reduction of the cognitive reserve capacity of the brain. In patients with a more low-grade AD pathology, WMLs in the parietal lobes might increase the risk of developing dementia.
PMCID: PMC3656673  PMID: 23687506
Alzheimer's disease; Dementia; Cerebrospinal fluid; White matter lesions; Follow-up studies

15.  Injury markers predict time to dementia in subjects with MCI and amyloid pathology 
Neurology  2012;79(17):1809-1816.
Alzheimer disease (AD) can now be diagnosed in subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) using biomarkers. However, little is known about the rate of decline in those subjects. In this cohort study, we aimed to assess the conversion rate to dementia and identify prognostic markers in subjects with MCI and evidence of amyloid pathology.
We pooled subjects from the VU University Medical Center Alzheimer Center and the Development of Screening Guidelines and Criteria for Predementia Alzheimer's Disease (DESCRIPA) study. We included subjects with MCI, an abnormal level of β-amyloid1−42 (Aβ1–42) in the CSF, and at least one diagnostic follow-up visit. We assessed the effect of APOE genotype, CSF total tau (t-tau) and tau phosphorylated at threonine 181 (p-tau) and hippocampal volume on time to AD-type dementia using Cox proportional hazards models and on decline on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) using linear mixed models.
We included 110 subjects with MCI with abnormal CSF Aβ1–42 and a mean MMSE score of 26.3 ± 2.8. During a mean follow-up of 2.2 ± 1.0 (range 0.4–5.0) years, 63 subjects (57%) progressed to AD-type dementia. Abnormal CSF t-tau (hazard ratio [HR] 2.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1–4.6, p = 0.03) and CSF p-tau (HR 3.5, 95% CI 1.3–9.2, p = 0.01) concentration and hippocampal atrophy (HR 2.5, 95% CI 1.1–5.6, p = 0.02) predicted time to dementia. For subjects with both abnormal t-tau concentration and hippocampal atrophy, HR was 7.3 (95% CI 1.0–55.9, p = 0.06). Furthermore, abnormal CSF t-tau and p-tau concentrations and hippocampal atrophy predicted decline in MMSE score.
In subjects with MCI and evidence of amyloid pathology, the injury markers CSF t-tau and p-tau and hippocampal atrophy can predict further cognitive decline.
PMCID: PMC3475623  PMID: 23019259
16.  A longitudinal study of risk factors for community-based home help services in Alzheimer’s disease: the influence of cholinesterase inhibitor therapy 
To investigate the long-term effects of cholinesterase inhibitor (ChEI) therapy and the influence of sociodemographic and clinical factors on the use of community-based home help services (HHS) by patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
This 3-year, prospective, multicenter study included 880 AD patients treated with donepezil, rivastigmine, or galantamine in a routine clinical setting. At baseline and every 6 months, the patients were assessed with several rating scales, including the Mini-Mental State Examination, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL), and Physical Self-Maintenance Scale. Doses of ChEI and amounts of HHS per week were recorded. Cox regression models were used to predict the time to HHS, and multiple linear regression was used to predict the volume of HHS used.
During the study, 332 patients (38%) used HHS. Factors that both postponed HHS use and predicted lower amounts of HHS were higher doses of ChEIs, better IADL ability, and living with family. Men, younger individuals, and those with a slower IADL decline showed a longer time to HHS, whereas female sex, a lower cognitive status, or more medications at baseline predicted fewer hours of HHS.
Higher doses of ChEI might reduce the use of HHS, possibly reducing the costs of community-based care. Female spouses provide more informal care than do male spouses, so the likelihood of using HHS is greater among women with AD. The “silent group” of more cognitively impaired and frail elderly AD patients receives less HHS, which might precipitate institutionalization.
PMCID: PMC3610439  PMID: 23682212
cognition; activities of daily living; treatment effect; gender; predictors
17.  Low CSF Levels of Both α-Synuclein and the α-Synuclein Cleaving Enzyme Neurosin in Patients with Synucleinopathy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53250.
Neurosin is a protease that in vitro degrades α-synuclein, the main constituent of Lewy bodies found in brains of patients with synucleinopathy including Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Several studies have reported reduced cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of α-synuclein in synucleinopathy patients and recent data also proposes a significant role of α-synuclein in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). To investigate potential links between neurosin and its substrate α-synuclein in vivo we used a commercially available sandwich ELISA and an in-house developed direct ELISA to quantify CSF levels of α-synuclein and neurosin in patients diagnosed with DLB, PD and PD dementia (PDD) versus AD patients and non-demented controls. We found that patients with synucleinopathy displayed lower CSF levels of neurosin and α-synuclein compared to controls and AD patients. In contrast, AD patients demonstrated significantly increased CSF α-synuclein but similar neurosin levels compared to non-demented controls. Further, CSF neurosin and α-synuclein concentrations were positively associated in controls, PD and PDD patients and both proteins were highly correlated to CSF levels of phosphorylated tau in all investigated groups. We observed no effect of gender or presence of the apolipoprotein Eε4 allele on neither neurosin or α-synuclein CSF levels. In concordance with the current literature our study demonstrates decreased CSF levels of α-synuclein in synucleinopathy patients versus AD patients and controls. Importantly, decreased α-synuclein levels in patients with synucleinopathy appear linked to low levels of the α-synuclein cleaving enzyme neurosin. In contrast, elevated levels of α-synuclein in AD patients were not related to any altered CSF neurosin levels. Thus, altered CSF levels of α-synuclein and neurosin in patients with synucleinopathy versus AD may not only mirror disease-specific neuropathological mechanisms but may also serve as fit candidates for future biomarker studies aiming at identifying specific markers of synucleinopathy.
PMCID: PMC3540093  PMID: 23308173
18.  A Longitudinal Study of Physical Function in Patients with Early-Onset Dementia 
The aim of this study was to explore changes in mobility in terms of ambulation and transfer over 1 year in patients with early-onset Alzheimer's disease (EOAD), and to compare mobility in EOAD with patients with other types of early-onset dementia (EOOD).
Forty-two patients with EOAD and 30 patients with EOOD were included. All patients were home-dwelling and had mild or moderate degree of dementia. Mobility was assessed using the Timed Up and Go Test (TUG), a modified version of the Clinical Outcome Variables Scale, timed stair walking, and timed rise from the floor.
The EOAD group performed significantly better than the EOOD group on all mobility tests. After 1 year, 25 persons with EOAD were tested again. The performance on TUG (p = 0.028) and stair walking (p = 0.02) had deteriorated at the 1-year follow-up in the EOAD group.
Patients with EOAD performed better on mobility tasks than patients with EOOD, but their performance deteriorated at 1-year follow-up.
PMCID: PMC3551435  PMID: 23341827
Dementia; Alzheimer's disease; Early onset; Mobility; Motor function; Physical performance; Timed Up and Go Test
19.  No Diagnostic Value of Plasma Clusterin in Alzheimer's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50237.
There is an urgent need for biomarkers to enable early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). It has recently been shown that a variant within the clusterin gene is associated with increased risk of AD and plasma levels of clusterin have been found to be associated with the risk of AD. We, therefore, investigated the diagnostic value of clusterin by quantifying clusterin using an ELISA in plasma from 171 controls, 127 patients with AD, 82 patients with other dementias and 30 patients with depression. We observed similar plasma clusterin levels in controls, AD patients and patients with other dementias, suggesting that plasma clusterin levels have no diagnostic value for AD. There was a slight, but significant, increase in plasma clusterin in patients with depression compared to all other groups tested, which may warrant further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3509147  PMID: 23209684
20.  Functional response to cholinesterase inhibitor therapy in a naturalistic Alzheimer’s disease cohort 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:134.
Activities of daily living (ADL) are an essential part of the diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A decline in ADL affects independent living and has a strong negative impact on caregiver burden. Functional response to cholinesterase inhibitor (ChEI) treatment and factors that might influence this response in naturalistic AD patients need investigating. The aim of this study was to identify the socio-demographic and clinical factors that affect the functional response after 6 months of ChEI therapy.
This prospective, non-randomised, multicentre study in a routine clinical setting included 784 AD patients treated with donepezil, rivastigmine or galantamine. At baseline and after 6 months of treatment, patients were assessed using several rating scales, including the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) scale, Physical Self-Maintenance Scale (PSMS) and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). Demographic and clinical characteristics were investigated at baseline. The functional response and the relationships of potential predictors were analysed using general linear models.
After 6 months of ChEI treatment, 49% and 74% of patients showed improvement/no change in IADL and in PSMS score, respectively. The improved/unchanged patients exhibited better cognitive status at baseline; regarding improved/unchanged PSMS, patients were younger and used fewer anti-depressants. A more positive functional response to ChEI was observed in younger individuals or among those having the interaction effect of better preserved cognition and lower ADL ability. Patients with fewer concomitant medications or those using NSAIDs/acetylsalicylic acid showed a better PSMS response.
Critical characteristics that may influence the functional response to ChEI in AD were identified. Some predictors differed from those previously shown to affect cognitive response, e.g., lower cognitive ability and older age predicted better cognitive but worse functional response.
PMCID: PMC3534216  PMID: 23126532
Alzheimer’s disease; Activities of daily living; Cholinesterase inhibitors; Treatment effect; Predictors; Statistical models
21.  The Impact of Autonomic Dysfunction on Survival in Patients with Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Parkinson's Disease with Dementia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e45451.
Autonomic dysfunction is a well-known feature in neurodegenerative dementias, especially common in α-synucleinopathies like dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease with dementia. The most common symptoms are orthostatic hypotension, incontinence and constipation, but its relevance in clinical practice is poorly understood. There are no earlier studies addressing the influence of autonomic dysfunction on clinical course and survival. The aim of this study was to investigate the frequency of the three most common features of autonomic dysfunction and analyze how it affects survival.
Thirty patients with dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease with dementia were included in this prospective, longitudinal follow-up study. Presence of incontinence and constipation was recorded at baseline. Blood pressure was measured at baseline, after 3 months and after 6 months according to standardized procedures, with 5 measurements during 10 minutes after rising. Orthostatic hypotension was defined using consensus definitions and persistent orthostatic hypotension was defined as 5 or more measurements with orthostatic hypotension. Difference in survival was analyzed 36 months after baseline.
There was a high frequency of persistent orthostatic blood pressure (50%), constipation (30%) and incontinence (30%). Patients with persistent orthostatic hypotension had a significantly shorter survival compared to those with no or non-persistent orthostatic hypotension (Log rank x2 = 4.47, p = 0.034). Patients with constipation and/or urinary incontinence, in addition to persistent orthostatic hypotension, had a poorer prognosis compared to those with isolated persistent orthostatic hypotension or no orthostatic hypotension (Log rank x2 = 6.370, p = 0.041).
According to our findings, the identification of autonomic dysfunction seems to be of great importance in clinical practice, not only to avoid falls and other complications, but also as a possible predictor of survival.
PMCID: PMC3462171  PMID: 23049679
22.  Cognitive impairment is undetected in medical inpatients: a study of mortality and recognition amongst healthcare professionals 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:47.
Detecting cognitive impairment in medical inpatients is important due to its association with adverse outcomes. Our aim was to study recognition of cognitive impairment and its association with mortality.
200 inpatients aged over 60 years were recruited at the Department of General Internal Medicine at University Hospital MAS in Malmö, Sweden. The MMSE (Mini-Mental State Examination) and the CDT (Clock-Drawing Test) were performed and related to recognition rates by patients, staff physicians, nurses and informants. The impact of abnormal cognitive test results on mortality was studied using a multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression.
55 patients (28%) had no cognitive impairment while 68 patients (34%) had 1 abnormal test result (on MMSE or CDT) and 77 patients (39%) had 2 abnormal test results. Recognition by healthcare professionals was 12% in the group with 1 abnormal test and 44-64% in the group with 2 abnormal test results. In our model, cognitive impairment predicted 12-month mortality with a hazard ratio (95% CI) of 2.86 (1.28-6.39) for the group with 1 abnormal cognitive test and 3.39 (1.54-7.45) for the group with 2 abnormal test results.
Cognitive impairment is frequent in medical inpatients and associated with increased mortality. Recognition rates of cognitive impairment need to be improved in hospitals.
PMCID: PMC3492162  PMID: 22920412
Cognitive impairment; Medical inpatients; Mortality
23.  Comparison of Brief Cognitive Tests and CSF Biomarkers in Predicting Alzheimer’s Disease in Mild Cognitive Impairment: Six-Year Follow-Up Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38639.
Early identification of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is needed both for clinical trials and in clinical practice. In this study, we compared brief cognitive tests and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers in predicting conversion from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to AD.
At a memory clinic, 133 patients with MCI were followed until development of dementia or until they had been stable over a mean period of 5.9 years (range 3.2–8.8 years). The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the clock drawing test, total tau, tau phosphorylated at Thr181 (P-tau) and amyloid-β1–42 (Aβ42) were assessed at baseline.
During clinical follow-up, 47% remained cognitively stable and 53% developed dementia, with an incidence of 13.8%/year. In the group that developed dementia the prevalence of AD was 73.2%, vascular dementia 14.1%, dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) 5.6%, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) 4.2%, semantic dementia 1.4% and dementia due to brain tumour 1.4%. When predicting subsequent development of AD among patients with MCI, the cognitive tests classified 81% of the cases correctly (AUC, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.77–0.90) and CSF biomarkers 83% (AUC, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.82–0.94). The combination of cognitive tests and CSF (AUC, 0.93; 95% CI 0.87 to 0.96) was significantly better than the cognitive tests (p = 0.01) and the CSF biomarkers (p = 0.04) alone when predicting AD.
The MMSE and the clock drawing test were as accurate as CSF biomarkers in predicting future development of AD in patients with MCI. Combining both instruments provided significantly greater accuracy than cognitive tests or CSF biomarkers alone in predicting AD.
PMCID: PMC3382225  PMID: 22761691
24.  CCL2 Is Associated with a Faster Rate of Cognitive Decline during Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30525.
Chemokine (C-C motif) receptor 2 (CCR2)-signaling can mediate accumulation of microglia at sites affected by neuroinflammation. CCR2 and its main ligand CCL2 (MCP-1) might also be involved in the altered metabolism of beta-amyloid (Aβ) underlying Alzheimer's disease (AD). We therefore measured the levels of CCL2 and three other CCR2 ligands, i.e. CCL11 (eotaxin), CCL13 (MCP-4) and CCL26 (eotaxin-3), in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma of 30 controls and 119 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at baseline. During clinical follow-up 52 MCI patients were clinically stable for five years, 47 developed AD (i.e. cases with prodromal AD at baseline) and 20 developed other dementias. Only CSF CCL26 was statistically significantly elevated in patients with prodromal AD when compared to controls (p = 0.002). However, in patients with prodromal AD, the CCL2 levels in CSF at baseline correlated with a faster cognitive decline during follow-up (rs = 0.42, p = 0.004). Furthermore, prodromal AD patients in the highest tertile of CSF CCL2 exhibited a significantly faster cognitive decline (p<0.001) and developed AD dementia within a shorter time period (p<0.003) compared to those in the lowest tertile. Finally, in the entire MCI cohort, CSF CCL2 could be combined with CSF Tau, P-tau and Aβ42 to predict both future conversion to AD and the rate of cognitive decline. If these results are corroborated in future studies, CCL2 in CSF could be a candidate biomarker for prediction of future disease progression rate in prodromal AD. Moreover, CCR2-related signaling pathways might be new therapeutic targets for therapies aiming at slowing down the disease progression rate of AD.
PMCID: PMC3268759  PMID: 22303443
25.  Evaluation of a Previously Suggested Plasma Biomarker Panel to Identify Alzheimer's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29868.
There is an urgent need for biomarkers in plasma to identify Alzheimer's disease (AD). It has previously been shown that a signature of 18 plasma proteins can identify AD during pre-dementia and dementia stages (Ray et al, Nature Medicine, 2007). We quantified the same 18 proteins in plasma from 174 controls, 142 patients with AD, and 88 patients with other dementias. Only three of these proteins (EGF, PDG-BB and MIP-1δ) differed significantly in plasma between controls and AD. The 18 proteins could classify patients with AD from controls with low diagnostic precision (area under the ROC curve was 63%). Moreover, they could not distinguish AD from other dementias. In conclusion, independent validation of results is important in explorative biomarker studies.
PMCID: PMC3261152  PMID: 22279551

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