The aim of this pilot study is to determine the feasibility and clinical utility of a brief, informant-based screening questionnaire for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that can be administered in a primary care setting. The Alzheimer’s Questionnaire (AQ) was administered to the informants of 188 patients in 3 dementia clinics (50 cognitively normal, 69 mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 69 AD). Total score for the AQ is based upon the sum of clinical symptom items in which the informant responds as being present. Clinical symptoms which are known to be highly predictive of the clinical AD diagnosis are given greater weight in the total AQ score. The mean time of administration of the AQ was 2.6 ± 0.6 minutes. Sensitivity and specificity were found to be high for detecting both AD (98.55, 96.00) and MCI (86.96, 94.00) with ROC curves yielding AUC values of 0.99 and 0.95, respectively. This pilot study indicates that the AQ is a brief, sensitive measure for detecting both MCI and AD and could be easily implemented in a primary care setting.
Alzheimer’s disease; instrument; questionnaire; primary care
The objective of this study was to describe a case of Alzheimer’s disease in an ApoE ε2/ε2 homozygote. ApoE ε2/ε2 is the rarest of the apolipoprotein E genotypes, representing only 1.4% of the population. There is only one case reported in the literature of a nonagenarian with minimal cognitive changes whose brain showed AD pathology on postmortem study. Here we report an 87-year-old ApoE ε2/ε2 female who meets clinical criteria for Alzheimer’s disease, with confirmation from neuropsychological testing and PET scan. Clinical course is typical for Alzheimer’s disease with decline on the Mini-Mental Status Examination from a score of 25 to 19 over 3.5 years. The patient is currently treated with donepezil and memantine. In conclusion, a clinically confirmed case of Alzheimer’s disease is rare in Apo E2 homozygotes but can occur.
Alzheimer’s disease; apolipoprotein E2; homozygote; PET scan
Synucleinopathies are a broad class of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by the presence of intracellular protein aggregates containing α-synuclein protein. The aggregated α-synuclein protein is hyperphosphorylated on serine 129 (S129) compared to the unaggregated form of the protein. While the precise functional consequences of S129 hyperphosphorylation are still being clarified, numerous in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that S129 phosphorylation is an early event in α-synuclein dysfunction and aggregation. Identifying the kinases and phosphatases that regulate this critical phosphorylation event may ultimately prove beneficial by allowing pharmacological mitigation of synuclein dysfunction and toxicity in Parkinson’s disease and other synucleinopathies. We report here the development of a high-content, fluorescence-based assay to quantitate levels of total and S129 phosphorylated α-synuclein protein. We have applied this assay to conduct high-throughput loss-of-function screens with siRNA libraries targeting 711 known and predicted human kinases and 206 phosphatases. Specifically, knockdown of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase related kinase SMG1 resulted in significant increases in the expression of pS129 phosphorylated α-synuclein (p-syn). Moreover, SMG1 protein levels were significantly reduced in brain regions with high p-syn levels in both dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson’s disease with dementia (PDD). These findings suggest that SMG1 may play an important role in increased α-synuclein pathology during the course of PDD, DLB, and possibly other synucleinopathies.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia impacts all facets of higher order cognitive function and is characterized by the presence of distinctive pathological lesions in the gray matter (GM). The profound alterations in GM structure and function have fostered the view that AD impacts are primarily a consequence of GM damage. However, the white matter (WM) represents about 50% of the cerebrum and this area of the brain is substantially atrophied and profoundly abnormal in both sporadic AD (SAD) and familial AD (FAD). We examined the WM biochemistry by ELISA and Western blot analyses of key proteins in 10 FAD cases harboring mutations in the presenilin genes PSEN1 and PSEN2 as well as in 4 non-demented control (NDC) individuals and 4 subjects with SAD. The molecules examined were direct substrates of PSEN1 such as Notch-1 and amyloid precursor protein (APP). In addition, apolipoproteins, axonal transport molecules, cytoskeletal and structural proteins, neurotrophic factors and synaptic proteins were examined. PSEN-FAD subjects had, on average, higher amounts of WM amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptides compared to SAD, which may play a role in the devastating dysfunction of the brain. However, the PSEN-FAD mutations we examined did not produce uniform increases in the relative proportions of Aβ42 and exhibited substantial variability in total Aβ levels. These observations suggest that neurodegeneration and dementia do not depend solely on enhanced Aβ42 levels. Our data revealed additional complexities in PSEN-FAD individuals. Some direct substrates of γ-secretase, such as Notch, N-cadherin, Erb-B4 and APP, deviated substantially from the NDC group baseline for some, but not all, mutation types. Proteins that were not direct γ-secretase substrates, but play key structural and functional roles in the WM, likewise exhibited varied concentrations in the distinct PSEN mutation backgrounds. Detailing the diverse biochemical pathology spectrum of PSEN mutations may offer valuable insights into dementia progression and the design of effective therapeutic interventions for both SAD and FAD.
Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease; familial Alzheimer’s disease; presenilin; γ-secretase; white matter; gray matter; amyloid precursor protein; amyloid-beta
Amyloid imaging may revolutionize Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research and clinical practice but is critically limited by an inadequate correlation between cerebral cortex amyloid plaques and dementia. Also, amyloid imaging does not indicate the extent of neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) spread throughout the brain. Currently, the presence of dementia as well as a minimal brain load of both plaques and NFTs is required for the diagnosis of AD. Autopsy studies suggest that striatal amyloid plaques may be mainly restricted to subjects in higher Braak NFT stages that meet clinicopathological diagnostic criteria for AD. Striatal plaques, which are readily identified by amyloid imaging, might therefore be used to predict the presence of a higher Braak NFT stage and clinicopathological AD in living subjects. This study determined the sensitivity and specificity of striatal plaques for predicting a higher Braak NFT stage and clinicopathological AD in a postmortem series of 211 elderly subjects. Subjects included 87 clinicopathologically classified as non-demented elderly controls and 124 with AD. A higher striatal plaque density score (moderate or frequent) had 95.8% sensitivity, 75.7% specificity for Braak NFT stage V or VI and 85.6% sensitivity, 86.2% specificity for the presence of dementia and clinicopathological AD (National Institute on Aging – Reagan Institute “intermediate” or “high”). Amyloid imaging of the striatum may be useful as a predictor, in living subjects, of Braak NFT stage and the presence or absence of dementia and clinicopathological AD. Validation of this hypothesis will require autopsy studies of subjects that had amyloid imaging during life.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid imaging; striatum; amyloid plaques; diagnosis; therapy; asymptomatic; preclinical; autopsy
Parkinson's disease (PD) afflicts approximately 1-2% of the population over 50 years of age. No cures or effective modifying treatments exist and clinical diagnosis is currently confounded by a lack of definitive biomarkers. We sought to discover potential biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of neuropathologically confirmed PD cases.
We compared postmortem ventricular CSF (V-CSF) from PD and normal control (NC) subjects using two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE). Spots exhibiting a 1.5-fold or greater difference in volume between PD patients and controls were excised from the 2D gels, subjected to tryptic digestion and identification of peptides assigned using mass spectrometric/data bank correlation methods.
Employing this strategy six molecules: fibrinogen, transthyretin, apolipoprotein E, clusterin, apolipoprotein A-1 and glutathione-S-transferase-Pi were found to be different between PD and NC populations.
These molecules have been implicated in PD pathogenesis. Combining biomarker data from multiple laboratories may create a consensus panel of proteins that may serve as a diagnostic tool for this neurodegenerative disorder.
2D-DIGE; cerebrospinal fluid; Parkinson's disease; proteomics
To compare autonomic function of subjects with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and essential tremor (ET) relative to controls.
It has been reported that patients with PD have autonomic dysfunction while no literature exists regarding autonomic function in ET.
Subjects with PD, ET, and controls had autonomic function measured using the SCOPA-Autonomic questionnaire, with the total and domain scores transformed to a scale of 0–100 points.
62 subjects with PD, 84 with ET, and 291 controls were included. Women were more prevalent in control (69%) compared to PD (44%) and ET (44%) groups, and mean age was significantly younger in PD (73 yrs) and older in ET (83) compared to controls (81). The mean SCOPA-Aut Total score in PD was significantly higher than controls, with no difference in ET. No autonomic dysfunction was found in any domain in ET but in PD there were significant abnormalities in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, urinary, and thermoregulatory domains. Individual question data revealed a significantly higher percentage of subjects with dysfunction on 11/23 questions in the PD group but only 1 question (sialorrhea) in the ET group compared with controls.
Autonomic scores, particularly gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, urinary, and thermoregulatory were increased in patients with PD, as assessed by SCOPA-Aut. Patients with ET did not exhibit autonomic dysfunction, with the exception of sialorrhea.
Autonomic dysfunction; Parkinson’s disease; Essential tremor
Carriers of the ApoE ϵ4 allele are at a greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and those who do develop AD tend to have a much greater neuropathological disease burden. Although several studies have shown significant differences in AD pathology among ϵ4 carriers and non-carriers, few have characterized these differences in terms of brain region and neuropathological score frequency.
566 pathologically-confirmed AD cases who were followed prospectively with antemortem dementia diagnoses (312 ApoE ϵ4 carriers and 254 ApoE ϵ4 non-carriers) were compared on the frequencies of neuropathological frequency scores (none, sparse, moderate, frequent) among several different brain regions (frontal, temporal, parietal, hippocampal, and entorhinal) using the CERAD scoring system. Pathology score frequencies were analyzed by carrier status (ϵ4 carrier vs. ϵ4 non-carrier) and by genotype (2/3, 3/3, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4). Both analyses investigated pathology score frequencies among different brain regions (frontal, temporal, parietal, hippocampal, and entorhinal).
ϵ4 carriers had a significantly lower age at death (p <0.001) and significantly higher Braak scores (p <0.001) than ϵ4 non-carriers. Genotype comparison revealed that plaque and tangle pathologies increased in the following pattern, 2/3<3/3<2/4<3/4<4/4, for several brain regions. When stratified by age and ApoE ϵ4 carrier status, ϵ4 carriers tended to have significantly more frequent scores across most cortical areas. However, non-carriers age 90 and older tended to have greater plaque pathology than carriers. For tangle pathology, ϵ4 carriers tended to have significantly more “frequent” scores than non-carriers, except for the hippocampal and entorhinal areas in individuals age 90 and older.
ApoE ϵ4 carriers had a significantly higher percentage of “frequent” scores for plaques and tangles when compared to ApoE ϵ4 non-carriers for several brain regions. However, ϵ4 non-carriers age 90 and older tended to have less plaque and tangle pathology in certain brain regions. These results demonstrate that AD pathology may manifest itself differently based on ApoE genotype and suggest that ApoE carriers and non-carriers may have different patterns of AD neuropathology location and density.
Background: accurately identifying individuals with cognitive impairment is difficult. Given the time constraints that many clinicians face, assessment of cognitive status is often not undertaken. The intent of this study is to determine the diagnostic accuracy of the Alzheimer's questionnaire (AQ) in identifying individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD.
Methods: utilising a case–control design, 300 [100 AD, 100 MCI, 100 cognitively normal (CN)] older adults between the ages of 53 and 93 from a neurology practice and a brain donation programme had the AQ administered to an informant. Diagnostic accuracy was assessed through receiver-operating characteristic analysis, which yielded sensitivity, specificity and area under the curve (AUC).
Results: the AQ demonstrated high sensitivity and specificity for detecting MCI [89.00 (81.20–94.40)]; [91.00 (83.60–65.80)] and AD [99.00 (94.60–100.00)]; [96.00 (90.10–98.90)]. AUC values also indicated high diagnostic accuracy for both MCI [0.95 (0.91–0.97)] and AD [0.99 (0.96–1.00)]. Internal consistency of the AQ was also high (Cronbach's alpha = 0.89).
Conclusion: the AQ is a valid informant-based instrument for identifying cognitive impairment, which could be easily implemented in a clinician's practice. It has high sensitivity and specificity in detecting both MCI and AD and allows clinicians to quickly and accurately assess individuals with reported cognitive problems.
mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer's disease; cognitive screening; informant-based assessment
Identifying biomarkers that distinguish Parkinson’s disease (PD) from normal control (NC) individuals has the potential to increase diagnostic sensitivity for the detection of early-stage PD. A previous proteomic study identified potential biomarkers in postmortem ventricular cerebrospinal fluid (V-CSF) from neuropathologically diagnosed PD subjects lacking Alzheimer’s disease (AD) neuropathology. In the present study, we assessed these biomarkers as well as p-tau181, Aβ42, and S100B by ELISA in PD (n = 43) and NC (n = 49) cases. The p-tau181/Aβ42 ratio and ApoA-1 showed statistically significant differences between groups. Multiple regression analysis demonstrated that p-tau181/Aβ42 had a significant odds ratio: OR = 1.42 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.12–1.84), P = 0.006. Among the molecules investigated, intriguing correlations were observed that require further investigation. Our results suggest coexistent AD CSF biomarkers within the PD group notwithstanding that it was selected to minimize AD neuropathological lesions.
Parkinson’s disease; biomarkers; ventricular cerebrospinal fluid; apolipoprotein A-1; p-tau181/Aβ42 ratio
The pathology of essential tremor is increasingly being studied; however, there are limited studies of biochemical changes in this condition.
We studied several candidate biochemical/anatomical systems in the brainstem, striatum and cerebellum of 23 essential tremor subjects who came to autopsy, comparing them to a control population.
Striatal tyrosine hydroxylase, a marker of dopaminergic neurons, was 91.7 ±113.2 ng/mg versus 96.4±102.7 ng/mg (not significant) in cases and controls. Locus ceruleus dopamine beta-hydroxylase, a marker of noradrenergic neurons, was not significantly different between essential tremor and control groups. Parvalbumin, a marker of GABAergic neurons, was 199.3±42.0 versus 251.4±74.8 ng/mg (p=0.025) in the pons in the region of the locus ceruleus of essential tremor versus controls, while there was no difference in cerebellar parvalbumin.
These results are supportive of a possible role for reduced GABAergic function within the locus ceruleus in essential tremor. The hypothesis that essential tremor represents early Parkinson’s disease was not supported as striatal dopaminergic markers were not reduced compared to control subjects.
tremor; pathology; GABA; norepinephrine
Dementia is a frequent complication of Parkinson’s disease (PD). About half of PD dementia (PDD) is hypothesized to be due to progression of the underlying Lewy body pathology into limbic regions and the cerebral cortex while the other half is thought to be due to coexistent Alzheimer’s disease. Clinically, however, these are indistinguishable. The spread of amyloid plaques to the striatum has been reported to be a sensitive and specific indicator of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The purpose of the present study was to determine if the presence of striatal plaques might also be a useful indicator of the presence of diagnostic levels of AD pathology within PD subjects. We analyzed neuropathologically-confirmed cases of PD without dementia (PDND, N = 31), PDD without AD (PDD, N = 31) and PD with dementia meeting clinicopathological criteria for AD (PDAD, N =40). The minimum diagnostic criterion for AD was defined as including a clinical history of dementia, moderate or frequent CERAD cortical neuritic plaque density and Braak neurofibrillary stage III–VI. Striatal amyloid plaque densities were determined using Campbell-Switzer and Thioflavine S stains. Striatal plaque densities were significantly higher in PDAD compared to PDD (p<0.001). The presence of striatal plaques was approximately 80% sensitive and 80% specific for predicting AD. In comparison, the presence of cerebral cortex plaques alone was highly sensitive (100%) but had poor specificity (48% to 55%). The results suggest that striatal amyloid imaging may be clinically useful for making the distinction between PDD and PDAD.
striatum; Lewy body; diagnosis; autopsy; neuropathology; biomarker
Evaluate electrophysiologic findings in incidental Lewy Body disease (ILBD).
ILBD, Control, and Parkinson's disease (PD) subjects had electrophysiological evaluation within two years prior to autopsy. Data analyzed included surface electromyography (EMG) of upper extremity muscles during rest and muscle activation, and electroencephalography (EEG) recording at rest. For EMG, gross tracings and spectral peaks were analyzed. EEG measures analyzed were background frequency and power in delta, theta, alpha, and beta bands.
Three of ten ILBD subjects (30%) showed unilateral rhythmic EMG discharges at rest without a visually apparent rest tremor. The ILBD resting EMG frequency was lower than in the Control group with no overlap (P=0.03) and close to that of the PD group. The ILBD group had significantly lower background rhythm frequency than the Control group (P=0.001) but was greater than the PD group (P=0.01).
The electrophysiologic changes in ILBD cases are between those of Control and PD, suggesting that these findings may reflect changes correlating with ILBD as a possible precursor to PD.
Electrophysiologic changes in ILBD may assist with the identification of a preclinical stage for Lewy body disorders and help the development of a therapeutic agent for modifying Lewy body disease progression.
Lewy body; Electromyography; Electroencephalography; Pathology; Parkinson's disease; Tremor
Down syndrome appears to be associated with a virtually certain risk of fibrillar amyloid-β (Aβ) pathology by the age of 40 and a very high risk of dementia at older ages. The positron emission tomography (PET) ligand florbetapir F18 has been shown to characterize fibrillar Aβ in the living human brain and to provide a close correlation with subsequent Aβ neuropathology in individuals proximate to and after the end of life. The extent to which the most frequently used PET ligands can be used to detect fibrillar Aβ in patients with Down syndrome remains to be determined.
To characterize PET estimates of fibrillar Aβ burden in a Down syndrome patient very close to the end of life and to compare them with neuropathologic assessment made after his death.
With the family’s informed consent, florbetapir PET was used to study a 55-year-old Down syndrome patient with Alzheimer disease near the end of life; his brain was donated for neuropathologic assessment when he died 14 days later. Visual ratings of cerebral florbetapir uptake were performed by trained readers who were masked to the patient’s diagnosis as part of a larger study, and an automated algorithm was used to characterize regional-to-cerebellar standard uptake value ratios in 6 cerebral regions of interest. Neuropathologic assessments were performed masked to the patient’s diagnosis or PET measurements.
Visual ratings and automated analyses of the PET image revealed a heavy fibrillar Aβ burden in cortical, striatal, and thalamic regions, similar to that reported for patients with late-onset Alzheimer disease. This matched neuropathologic findings of frequent neuritic and diffuse plaques, as well as frequent amyloid angiopathy, except for neuropathologically demonstrated frequent cerebellar diffuse plaques and amyloid angiopathy that were not detected by the PET scan.
Florbetapir PET can be used to detect increased cerebral-to-cerebellar fibrillar Aβ burden in a Down syndrome patient with Alzheimer disease, even in the presence of frequent amyloid angiopathy and diffuse plaques in the cerebellum. Additional studies are needed to determine the extent to which PET could be used to detect and to track fibrillar Aβ and to evaluate investigational Aβ-modifying treatments in the presymptomatic and symptomatic stages of Alzheimer disease.
The aspartyl protease BACE1 is the rate limiting enzyme in the synthesis of amyloid beta, which accumulation in the human brain is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). BACE1 has been proposed as a surrogate marker of AD; however, very few BACE1 immunoassays have been reported. In the present study we have screened ten BACE1 antibodies by Western blot and several antibody pairs to develop a new BACE1 sandwich ELISA procedure. We identified one pair that showed little background and good reproducibility. Several dilution buffers and sample denaturation methods were tried to partially unfold BACE1 before capture. We found that dilution in PBS followed by 10 min incubation at 50 °C critically improves the performance of the assay. Finally, we successfully measured BACE1 levels in a few human brain and platelet lysates as well as in plasma and AD CSF. We anticipate that this assay will lay the ground to accurately measure BACE1 levels in human tissues, which could facilitate the molecular diagnosis of AD in the near future.
BACE1; ELISA; Human; Brain; Plasma; Platelets
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia is a consequence of heterogeneous and complex interactions of age-related neurodegeneration and vascular-associated pathologies. Evidence has accumulated that there is increased atherosclerosis/arteriosclerosis of the intracranial arteries in AD and that this may be additive or synergistic with respect to the generation of hypoxia/ischemia and cognitive dysfunction. The effectiveness of pharmacologic therapies and lifestyle modification in reducing cardiovascular disease has prompted a reconsideration of the roles that cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular function play in the pathogenesis of dementia.
Using two-dimensional phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging, we quantified cerebral blood flow within the internal carotid, basilar, and middle cerebral arteries in a group of individuals with mild to moderate AD (n = 8) and compared the results with those from a group of age-matched nondemented control (NDC) subjects (n = 9). Clinical and psychometric testing was performed on all individuals, as well as obtaining their magnetic resonance imaging-based hippocampal volumes.
Our experiments reveal that total cerebral blood flow was 20% lower in the AD group than in the NDC group, and that these values were directly correlated with pulse pressure and cognitive measures. The AD group had a significantly lower pulse pressure (mean AD 48, mean NDC 71; P = 0.0004). A significant group difference was also observed in their hippocampal volumes. Composite z-scores for clinical, psychometric, hippocampal volume, and hemodynamic data differed between the AD and NDC subjects, with values in the former being significantly lower (t = 12.00, df = 1, P = 0.001) than in the latter.
These results indicate an association between brain hypoperfusion and the dementia of AD. Cardiovascular disease combined with brain hypoperfusion may participate in the pathogenesis/pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases. Future longitudinal and larger-scale confirmatory investigations measuring multidomain parameters are warranted.
Alzheimer’s disease; cerebral blood flow; brain hypoperfusion; two-dimensional phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging; brain morphometric analyses; atherosclerosis; arteriosclerosis; cognitive impairment
Multiple lines of evidence suggest cardiovascular co-morbidities hasten the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or accelerate its course.
To evaluate the utility of cerebral vascular physical function/condition parameters as potential systemic indicators of AD, we employed transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasound to assess cerebral blood flow and vascular resistance of the 16 arterial segments comprising the circle of Willis and its major tributaries.
Our study revealed decreased arterial mean flow velocity (MFV) and increased pulsatility index (PI) are associated with a clinical diagnosis of presumptive AD. Cerebral blood flow impairment revealed by these parameters reflects the global hemodynamic and structural consequences of a multifaceted disease process yielding diffuse congestive microvascular pathology, increased arterial rigidity, and decreased arterial compliance combined with putative age-associated cardiovascular output declines.
TCD evaluation offers direct physical confirmation of brain perfusion impairment and may ultimately provide a convenient, noninvasive means to assess the efficacy of medical interventions on cerebral blood flow or reveal incipient AD. In the near term, TCD-based direct assessments of brain perfusion may offer the prospect of preventing or mitigating AD simply by revealing patients who would benefit from interventions to improve circulatory system function.
Alzheimer’s disease; transcranial Doppler ultrasonography; cerebral blood flow; brain hypoperfusion; mean flow velocity; pulsatility index
Compare the frequency of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) in Parkinson’s disease (PD), restless legs syndrome (RLS), essential tremor (ET), and control subjects.
Subjects enrolled in a longitudinal clinicopathologic study, and when available an informant, completed the Mayo Sleep Questionnaire, which asks “Have you ever been told that you act out your dreams?”, and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS).
Probable RBD (based on informant response to the questionnaire) was much more frequent in PD (34/49, 69%, p<0.001) than in RLS (6/30, 20%), ET (7/53, 13%), or control subjects (23/175, 13%), with an odds ratio of 11 for PD compared to controls. The mean ESS and the number of subjects with an ESS ≥ 10 was higher in PD (29/60, 48%, p<0.001) and RLS (12/39, 31%, p<0.001) compared with ET (12/93, 13%) and Controls (34/296, 11%).
Probable RBD is much more frequent in PD with no evidence to suggest an increase in either RLS or ET. Given the evidence that RBD is a synucleinopathy, the lack of an increased frequency of RBD in subjects with ET or RLS suggests the majority of ET and RLS subjects are unlikely to be at increased risk for developing PD.
Parkinson’s disease; REM sleep behavior disorder; essential tremor; restless legs syndrome; excessive daytime sleepiness
A substantial body of evidence amassed from epidemiologic, correlative and experimental studies strongly associates atherosclerotic vascular disease (AVD) with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Depending on the precise interrelationship between AVD and AD, systematic application of interventions to maintain vascular health and function as a component of standard AD therapy offers the prospect of mitigating what is presently the inexorable course of dementia. To assess this hypothesis it is vital to rigorously establish the measures of AVD that are most strongly associated with an AD diagnosis.
A precise neuropathological diagnosis was established for all subjects using a battery of genetic, clinical, and histological methods. The severity of atherosclerosis in the circle of Willis (CW) was quantified by direct digitized measurement of arterial occlusion in postmortem specimens and compared between AD and non-demented control (NDC) groups by calculating a corresponding index of occlusion.
Atherosclerotic occlusion of the CW arteries was more extensive in the AD group than the NDC group. Statistically significant differences were also observed between control and AD groups with regard to Braak stage, total plaque score, total NFT score, total white matter rarefaction score, brain weight, MMSE scores and apolipoprotein E allelic frequencies.
Our results, combined with a consideration of the multifaceted impacts of impaired cerebral circulation, suggest an immediate need for prospective clinical trials to assess the efficacy of AD prevention using anti-atherosclerotic agents.
Alzheimer's disease; vascular dementia; intracranial atherosclerosis; circle of Willis; brain hypoperfusion
The ability to understand how Parkinson’s disease (PD) neurodegeneration leads to cortical dysfunction will be critical for developing therapeutic advances in PD dementia (PD-D). The overall purpose of this project was to study the small amplitude cortical myoclonus in PD as an in vivo model of focal cortical dysfunction secondary to PD neurodegeneration. The objectives were to test the hypothesis that cortical myoclonus in PD is linked to abnormal levels of α-synuclein in primary motor cortex and to define its relationship to various biochemical, clinical, and pathological measures.
Primary motor cortex was evaluated for 11 PD subjects with (PD+Myoclonus group) and 8 without (PD group) electrophysiologically confirmed cortical myoclonus who had premortem movement and cognitive testing. Similarly assessed 9 controls were used for comparison. Measurements for α-synuclein, Aβ-42 peptide, and other biochemical measures were made in primary motor cortex.
A 36% increase in α-synuclein was found in the motor cortex of PD+Myoclonus cases when compared to PD without myoclonus. This occurred without significant differences in insoluble α-synuclein, phosphorylated to total α-synuclein ratio, or Aβ-42 peptide levels. Higher total motor cortex α-synuclein levels significantly correlated with the presence of cortical myoclonus but did not correlate with multiple clinical or pathological findings.
These results suggest an association between elevated α-synuclein and the dysfunctional physiology arising from the motor cortex in PD+Myoclonus cases. Alzheimer’s disease pathology was not associated with cortical myoclonus in PD. Cortical myoclonus arising from motor cortex is a model to study cortical dysfunction in PD.
To evaluate the safety and tolerability of PF-04494700, an oral Inhibitor of receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE), in subjects with mild-to-moderate dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.
Subjects 50 years and older who met NINCDS-ADRDA criteria for AD with an MMSE score between 12–26 (inclusive) were randomized to 10-weeks of double-blind treatment with either a 10 mg “low dose” of PF-04494700 (after a 6-day loading dose of 30 mg/d to); or a 20 mg “high dose” of PF-04494700 (after a loading dose of 60 mg/d); or placebo. Safety measures included adverse events, laboratory tests, vital signs, and 12-lead ECG.
27 subjects received PF-04494700 30/10 mg (female, 63%; mean age, 74.6 years; mean MMSE, 21.1), 28 subjects received PF-04494700 60/20 mg (female, 57%; mean age, 76.6 years; mean MMSE, 21.6), and 12 subjects received placebo (female, 67%; mean age, 74.1 years; mean MMSE, 19.2). A higher proportion of subjects completed 10 weeks of double-blind treatment on both the “low dose” regimen of PF-04494700 (88.9%) and the “high dose” regimen (85.7%) than completed on placebo (66.7%). Discontinuation due to adverse events, and incidence of severe adverse events, respectively, were lower on the “low dose” regimen (7.4%,11.1%) and the “high dose” regimen (3.6%,10.7%) compared to placebo (25.0%,16.7%). There were no clinically meaningful differences in vital signs, laboratory test results, or mean ECG parameters in subjects treated with PF-04494700. PF-04494700 had no consistent effect on plasma levels of Aβ, inflammatory biomarkers, or secondary cognitive outcomes.
Ten weeks of treatment with PF-04494700 was safe and well-tolerated in subjects with mild-to-moderate AD, indicating the feasibility of a larger long-term efficacy trial.
Alzheimer’s disease; randomized clinical trial; RAGE
Amyloid imaging has identified cognitively normal older people with plaques as a group possibly at increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease-related dementia. It is important to begin to thoroughly characterize this group so that preventative therapies might be tested. Existing cholinotropic agents are a logical choice for preventative therapy as experimental evidence suggests that they are anti-amyloidogenic and clinical trials have shown that they delay progression of mild cognitive impairment to dementia. A detailed understanding of the status of the cortical cholinergic system in preclinical AD is still lacking, however. For more than 30 years, depletion of the cortical cholinergic system has been known to be one of the characteristic features of AD. Reports to date have suggested that some cholinergic markers are altered prior to cognitive impairment while others may show changes only at later stages of dementia. These studies have generally been limited by relatively small sample sizes, long postmortem intervals and insufficient definition of control and AD subjects by the defining histopathology. We therefore examined pre- and post-synaptic elements of the cortical cholinergic system in frontal and parietal cortex in 87 deceased subjects, including non-demented elderly with and without amyloid plaques as well as demented persons with neuropathologically-confirmed AD. Choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity was used as a presynaptic marker while displacement of 3H-pirenzepine binding by oxotremorine-M in the presence and absence of GppNHp was used to assess postsynaptic M1 receptor coupling. The results indicate that cortical ChAT activity as well as M1 receptor coupling are both significantly decreased in non-demented elderly subjects with amyloid plaques and are more pronounced in subjects with AD and dementia. These findings confirm that cortical cholinergic dysfunction in AD begins at the preclinical stage of disease and suggest that cholinotropic agents currently used for AD treatment are a logical choice for preventative therapy.
Alzheimer’s disease; cholinergic; muscarinic receptor; G-protein; amyloid imaging; preventative therapy; asymptomatic
We aimed to describe cases with incidental neuropathological findings of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) from the Banner Sun Health Research Institute Brain and Body Donation Program.
We performed a retrospective review of 277 subjects with longitudinal motor and neuropsychological assessments who came to autopsy. The mean Gallyas-positive PSP features grading for subjects with possible incidental neuropathological PSP was compared to those of subjects with clinically manifest disease.
There were 5 cases with histopathological findings suggestive of PSP, but no parkinsonism, dementia or movement disorder during life. Cognitive evaluation revealed 4 of the 5 cases to be cognitively normal; one case had amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in her last year of life. The mean age at death of the 5 cases was 88.9 years (range 80-94). All 5 individuals had histopathologic microscopic findings suggestive of PSP. Mean Gallyas-positive PSP features grading was significantly lower in subjects with possible incidental neuropathological PSP than subjects with clinical PSP, particularly in the subthalamic nucleus.
We present 5 patients with histopathological findings suggestive of PSP, without clinical PSP, dementia or parkinsonism during life. These incidental neuropathological PSP findings may represent the early or pre-symptomatic stage of PSP. The mean Gallyas-positive PSP features grading was significantly lower in possible incidental PSP than in clinical PSP, thus suggesting that a threshold of pathological burden needs to be reached within the typically affected areas in PSP before clinical signs and symptoms appear.
progressive supranuclear palsy; PSP; incidental; autopsy; parkinsonism; neuropathology
Objective: Measure total tau levels in the circulation of living humans, validate the methods employed and determine if there are consistent differences in total tau levels between normal controls and individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and/or Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Methods: Employing ELISA methods, validated by Western bolts using three separate tau antibodies, we quantified total tau levels in serially collected serum and plasma samples from individuals longitudinally evaluated for cognitive performance. Results: We identified substantial levels of tau in human circulation using plasma, but not serum. The measurement of authentic tau protein was verified by Western blots using a C-terminal specific antibody, an N-terminal specific antibody and antibody used in the commercially available ELISA kit. We revealed a significant decrease in plasma levels of total tau among subjects with MCI compared to cognitively normal controls, with a further highly significant reduction in AD patients compared to both MCI and normal controls. We also found a significant positive correlation between changing levels of plasma tau and cognitive performance within the entire population and among AD patients. Conclusions: The data suggest that changes in circulating tau levels quantified in plasma samples, but not serum samples, may represent a viable biomarker for tracking the progression of AD and the efficacy of medications in its treatment.
Circulating tau levels; mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer’s disease