As APOE locus variants contribute to both risk of late-onset Alzheimer disease and differences in age-at-onset, it is important to know if other established late-onset Alzheimer disease risk loci also affect age-at-onset in cases.
To investigate the effects of known Alzheimer disease risk loci in modifying age-at-onset, and to estimate their cumulative effect on age-at-onset variation, using data from genome-wide association studies in the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC).
Design, Setting and Participants
The ADGC comprises 14 case-control, prospective, and family-based datasets with data on 9,162 Caucasian participants with Alzheimer’s occurring after age 60 who also had complete age-at-onset information, gathered between 1989 and 2011 at multiple sites by participating studies. Data on genotyped or imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) most significantly associated with risk at ten confirmed LOAD loci were examined in linear modeling of AAO, and individual dataset results were combined using a random effects, inverse variance-weighted meta-analysis approach to determine if they contribute to variation in age-at-onset. Aggregate effects of all risk loci on AAO were examined in a burden analysis using genotype scores weighted by risk effect sizes.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Age at disease onset abstracted from medical records among participants with late-onset Alzheimer disease diagnosed per standard criteria.
Analysis confirmed association of APOE with age-at-onset (rs6857, P=3.30×10−96), with associations in CR1 (rs6701713, P=7.17×10−4), BIN1 (rs7561528, P=4.78×10−4), and PICALM (rs561655, P=2.23×10−3) reaching statistical significance (P<0.005). Risk alleles individually reduced age-at-onset by 3-6 months. Burden analyses demonstrated that APOE contributes to 3.9% of variation in age-at-onset (R2=0.220) over baseline (R2=0.189) whereas the other nine loci together contribute to 1.1% of variation (R2=0.198).
Conclusions and Relevance
We confirmed association of APOE variants with age-at-onset among late-onset Alzheimer disease cases and observed novel associations with age-at-onset in CR1, BIN1, and PICALM. In contrast to earlier hypothetical modeling, we show that the combined effects of Alzheimer disease risk variants on age-at-onset are on the scale of, but do not exceed, the APOE effect. While the aggregate effects of risk loci on age-at-onset may be significant, additional genetic contributions to age-at-onset are individually likely to be small.
Alzheimer Disease; Alzheimer Disease Genetics; Alzheimer’s Disease - Pathophysiology; Genetics of Alzheimer Disease; Aging
Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is significantly hampered by the lack of easily accessible biomarkers that can detect disease presence and predict disease risk reliably. Fluid biomarkers of AD currently provide indications of disease stage; however, they are not robust predictors of disease progression or treatment response, and most are measured in cerebrospinal fluid, which limits their applicability. With these aspects in mind, the aim of this article is to underscore the concerted efforts of the Blood-Based Biomarker Interest Group, an international working group of experts in the field. The points addressed include: (1) the major challenges in the development of blood-based biomarkers of AD, including patient heterogeneity, inclusion of the “right” control population, and the blood– brain barrier; (2) the need for a clear definition of the purpose of the individual markers (e.g., prognostic, diagnostic, or monitoring therapeutic efficacy); (3) a critical evaluation of the ongoing biomarker approaches; and (4) highlighting the need for standardization of preanalytical variables and analytical methodologies used by the field.
Progressive cognitive impairment and its clinical culmination in dementia loom as a major public health problem in the coming generation of older adults, and this fact compels investigation to develop interventions that prevent, delay, or cure. The tools of anatomic pathology have provided key insights into the complex convergence of multiple diseases that commonly contribute to the dementia syndrome and its prodrome in the community setting, and they have suggested some exposures that may modulate disease burden. The tools of clinical pathology, in combination with neuroimaging, have revolutionized the approach to clinical investigation of Alzheimer's disease and are now doing the same with Lewy body disease and vascular brain injury. The tools of anatomic and clinical pathology will continue to contribute to our understanding of these diseases as we advance toward effective interventions for the diseases that commonly cause cognitive impairment and dementia in older adults.
Alzheimer's disease; dementia; Lewy body disease; vascular brain injury
Pathological aggregates of phosphorylated TDP-43 characterize amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-TDP), two devastating groups of neurodegenerative disease. Kinase hyperactivity may be a consistent feature of ALS and FTLD-TDP, as phosphorylated TDP-43 is not observed in the absence of neurodegeneration. By examining changes in TDP-43 phosphorylation state, we have identified kinases controlling TDP-43 phosphorylation in a C. elegans model of ALS. In this kinome-wide survey, we identified homologs of the tau tubulin kinases 1 and 2 (TTBK1 and TTBK2), which were also identified in a prior screen for kinase modifiers of TDP-43 behavioral phenotypes. Using refined methodology, we demonstrate TTBK1 and TTBK2 directly phosphorylate TDP-43 in vitro and promote TDP-43 phosphorylation in mammalian cultured cells. TTBK1/2 overexpression drives phosphorylation and relocalization of TDP-43 from the nucleus to cytoplasmic inclusions reminiscent of neuropathologic changes in disease states. Furthermore, protein levels of TTBK1 and TTBK2 are increased in frontal cortex of FTLD-TDP patients, and TTBK1 and TTBK2 co-localize with TDP-43 inclusions in ALS spinal cord. These kinases may represent attractive targets for therapeutic intervention for TDP-43 proteinopathies such as ALS and FTLD-TDP.
Aggregated proteins are a hallmark of many neurodegenerative diseases. In ALS and FTLD-TDP, these aggregates contain abnormal TDP-43 modified by phosphorylation. Protein phosphorylation normally controls protein activity, stability, or location, but in some neurodegenerative diseases the phosphorylated proteins accumulate in excess. Kinases are the enzymes responsible for protein phosphorylation. We have identified two TDP-43 kinases, TTBK1 and TTBK2, using a novel approach combining reverse genetics and biochemical screening to identify the kinases responsible for changes in TDP-43 phosphorylation. We show TTBK1 and TTBK2 directly phosphorylate TDP-43 in vitro, and control TDP-43 phosphorylation in cellular and simple animal models of ALS. This has uncovered a molecular mechanism by which pathological phosphorylated TDP-43 can occur in disease. To determine whether changes in TTBK1/2 protein are contributing to TDP-43 pathology, we examined diseased brain and spinal cord tissue from patients with ALS or FTLD-TDP. We observed changes in the abundance of TTBK1 and TTBK2 in disease-affected neurons, and the coexistence of TTBK1/2 with phosphorylated TDP-43 aggregates in both FTLD-TDP and ALS. Therefore, increased abundance or activity of TTBK1 or TTBK2 may contribute to the neurodegeneration observed in ALS and FTLD-TDP.
Many neurodegenerative disorders involve the abnormal accumulation of proteins. In addition to the well-known findings of neurofibrillary tangles and β-amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease, here we show that abnormal accumulations of gephyrin, an inhibitory receptor anchoring protein, are highly correlated with the neuropathologic diagnosis of AD (odds ratio of 72.7; p = 6.844 × 10−6 by Fisher’s exact test, n = 17 AD and n = 14 control cases). Furthermore, the gephyrin accumulations are specific for AD and not seen in other neurodegenerative diseases. Gephyrin accumulations overlap with β-amyloid plaques and, more rarely, neurofibrillary tangles. Follow-up biochemical and proteomic studies suggest alterations in the gephyrin solubility and reveal elevated levels of gephyrin lower-molecular-weight species in the AD insoluble fraction. Since gephyrin is involved in synaptic organization and synaptic dysfunction is an early event in AD, these findings point to a possible role for gephyrin in AD pathogenesis.
gephyrin; Alzheimer’s disease; β-amyloid; presenilin; synapse; GABA
Quantifying antigens in formalin-fixed tissue is challenging and limits investigation in population-based studies of brain aging. To address this major limitation, we have developed a new technique that we call “Histelide”: immunohistochemistry (HIST-) and ELISA (-EL-) performed on a glass slide (-IDE). We validated Histelide in sections of prefrontal cortex from 20 selected cases: 12 subjects with clinically and neuropathologically diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease (AD), either autosomal dominant or late-onset forms, and 8 clinical and neuropathologic Controls. AD cases had significantly increased amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide and paired helical filament– (PHF-) tau per area of neocortex that was proteinase K-sensitive, and significantly decreased amount of synaptophysin. We next investigated prefrontal cortex from 81 consecutive cases of high cognitive performers from the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study, a population-based study of brain aging and incident dementia. As expected, latent AD was common in this group; however, our results quantified widely individually-varying levels of Aβ peptides and PHF-tau among these high cognitive performers. This novel approach obtains quantitative data from population-based studies, and our initial studies with high cognitive performers provide important quantitative insights into latent AD that should help guide expectations from neuroimaging and prevention studies.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related dementias are a major public health challenge and present a therapeutic imperative for which we need additional insight into molecular pathogenesis. We performed a genome-wide association study and analysis of known genetic risk loci for AD dementia using neuropathologic data from 4,914 brain autopsies. Neuropathologic data were used to define clinico-pathologic AD dementia or controls, assess core neuropathologic features of AD (neuritic plaques, NPs; neurofibrillary tangles, NFTs), and evaluate commonly co-morbid neuropathologic changes: cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), Lewy body disease (LBD), hippocampal sclerosis of the elderly (HS), and vascular brain injury (VBI). Genome-wide significance was observed for clinico-pathologic AD dementia, NPs, NFTs, CAA, and LBD with a number of variants in and around the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE). GalNAc transferase 7 (GALNT7), ATP-Binding Cassette, Sub-Family G (WHITE), Member 1 (ABCG1), and an intergenic region on chromosome 9 were associated with NP score; and Potassium Large Conductance Calcium-Activated Channel, Subfamily M, Beta Member 2 (KCNMB2) was strongly associated with HS. Twelve of the 21 non-APOE genetic risk loci for clinically-defined AD dementia were confirmed in our clinico-pathologic sample: CR1, BIN1, CLU, MS4A6A, PICALM, ABCA7, CD33, PTK2B, SORL1, MEF2C, ZCWPW1, and CASS4 with 9 of these 12 loci showing larger odds ratio in the clinico-pathologic sample. Correlation of effect sizes for risk of AD dementia with effect size for NFTs or NPs showed positive correlation, while those for risk of VBI showed a moderate negative correlation. The other co-morbid neuropathologic features showed only nominal association with the known AD loci. Our results discovered new genetic associations with specific neuropathologic features and aligned known genetic risk for AD dementia with specific neuropathologic changes in the largest brain autopsy study of AD and related dementias.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related dementias are a major public health challenge and present a therapeutic imperative for which we need additional insight into molecular pathogenesis. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS), as well as an analysis of known genetic risk loci for AD dementia, using data from 4,914 brain autopsies. Genome-wide significance was observed for 7 genes and pathologic features of AD and related diseases. Twelve of the 22 genetic risk loci for clinically-defined AD dementia were confirmed in our pathologic sample. Correlation of effect sizes for risk of AD dementia with effect size for hallmark pathologic features of AD were strongly positive and linear. Our study discovered new genetic associations with specific pathologic features and aligned known genetic risk for AD dementia with specific pathologic changes in a large brain autopsy study of AD and related dementias.
Cognitive impairment (CI) and behavioral disturbances can be the earliest symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD), ultimately afflict the vast majority of PD patients, and increase caregiver burden. Our two Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research were supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to recommend a comprehensive yet practical approach to cognitive and behavioral assessment to fuel collaborative research. We recommend a step-wise approach with two levels of standardized evaluation to establish a common battery, as well as an alternative testing recommendation for severely impaired subjects, and review supplemental tests that may be useful in specific research settings. Our flexible approach may be applied to studies with varying emphasis on cognition and behavior, does not place undue burden on participants or resources, and has a high degree of compatibility with existing test batteries to promote collaboration.
To identify plasma-based biomarkers for Parkinson's Disease (PD) risk.
In a discovery cohort of 152 PD patients, plasma levels of 96 proteins were measured by multiplex immunoassay; proteins associated with age at PD onset were identified by linear regression. Findings from discovery screening were then assessed in a second cohort of 187 PD patients, using a different technique. Finally, in a third cohort of at-risk, asymptomatic individuals enrolled in the Parkinson's Associated Risk Study (PARS, n=134), plasma levels of the top candidate biomarker were measured, and dopamine transporter (DAT) imaging performed, to evaluate the association of plasma protein levels with dopaminergic system integrity.
One of the best candidate protein biomarkers to emerge from discovery screening was apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1, p=0.001). Low levels of ApoA1 correlated with earlier PD onset, with a 26% decrease in risk of developing PD associated with each tertile increase in ApoA1 (Cox proportional hazards p<0.001, hazard ratio=0.742). The association between plasma ApoA1 levels and age at PD onset replicated in an independent cohort of PD patients (p<0.001). Finally, in the PARS cohort of high-risk, asymptomatic subjects, lower plasma levels of ApoA1 were associated with greater putaminal DAT deficit (p=0.037).
Lower ApoA1 levels correlate with dopaminergic system vulnerability in symptomatic PD patients and in asymptomatic individuals with physiological reductions in dopamine transporter density consistent with prodromal PD. Plasma ApoA1 may be a new biomarker for PD risk.
MicroRNA (miRNA) may be potential biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The objective of this investigation was to demonstrate that miRNAs in human brain or biofluids are differentially expressed according to disease status, tissue type, neuritic plaque score or Braak stage. Post-mortem brain (PMB) miRNA were profiled using arrays and validated using quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR). Five qRT-PCR-validated miRNAs were measured in an independent sample of PMB, cerebrospinal fluid and plasma from the same subjects. Plasma miR-15a was found to be associated with plaque score in the independent sample. In conclusion, miRNA present in human biofluids may offer utility as biomarkers of AD.
Amyloid; biomarker; Braak stage; miR-15a; miR-370; miR-328; miR-138; miR 132; plaque
Sporadic Alzheimer disease (AD) is caused in part by decreased clearance of the β-amyloid (Aβ) peptide breakdown products. Lipid-depleted (LD) apolipoproteins are less effective at binding and clearing Aβ, and LD Aβ peptides are more toxic to neurons. However, not much is known about the lipid states of these proteins in human cerebrospinal fluid.
To characterize the lipidation states of Aβ peptides and apolipoprotein E in the cerebrospinal fluid in adults with respect to cognitive diagnosis and APOE ε4 allele carrier status and after a dietary intervention.
Randomized clinical trial.
Veterans Affairs Medical Center clinical research unit.
Twenty older adults with normal cognition (mean [SD] age, 69  years) and 27 with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (67  years).
Randomization to a diet high in saturated fat content and with a high glycemic index (High diet;45% of energy from fat [>25% saturated fat], 35%-40%fromcarbohydrates with a mean glycemic index >70, and15%-20% from protein) or a diet low in saturated fat content and with a low glycemic index (Low diet; 25% of energy from fat [<7% saturated fat], 55%-60% from carbohydrates with a mean glycemic index <55, and 15%-20% from protein).
Main Outcomes and Measures
Lipid-depleted Aβ42 and Aβ40 and apolipoprotein E in cerebrospinal fluid.
Baseline levels of LD Aβ were greater for adults with mild cognitive impairment compared with adults with normal cognition (LD Aβ42, P=.05; LD Aβ40, P=.01).These findings were magnified in adults with mild cognitive impairment and the ε4 allele, who had higher LD apolipoprotein E levels irrespective of cognitive diagnosis (P<.001). The Low diet tended to decrease LD Aβ levels, whereas the High diet increased these fractions (LD Aβ42, P=.01; LD Aβ40, P=.15). Changes in LD Aβ levels with the Low diet negatively correlated with changes in cerebrospinal fluid levels of insulin (LD Aβ42 and insulin, r= −0.68 [P=.01]; LD Aβ40 and insulin, r= −0.78 [P=.002]).
Conclusions and Relevance
The lipidation states of apolipoproteins and Aβ peptides in the brain differ depending on APOE genotype and cognitive diagnosis. Concentrations can be modulated by diet. These findings may provide insight into the mechanisms through which apolipoprotein E4 and unhealthy diets impart risk for developing AD.
Myeloablative (MyA) bone marrow transplantation (BMT) results in robust engraftment of BMT-derived cells in the central nervous system (CNS) and is neuroprotective in diverse experimental models of neurodegenerative diseases of brain and retina. However, MyA irradiation is associated with significant morbidity and mortality and does not represent a viable therapeutic option for the elderly. Non-myeloablative (NMyA) BMT is less toxic, but it is not known if the therapeutic efficacy observed with MyA BMT is preserved. As a first step to address this important gap in knowledge, we evaluated and compared engraftment characteristics of BMT-derived monocytes/microglia using several clinically relevant NMyA pretransplant conditioning regimens in C57BL/6 mice. These included chemotherapy (fludarabine and cyclophosphamide) with or without 2 Gy irradiation, and 5.5 Gy irradiation alone. Each regimen was followed by transplantation of whole bone marrow from green fluorescent protein-expressing wild type (wt) mice. While stable hematopoietic engraftment occurred, to varying degrees, in all NMyA regimens, only 5.5 Gy irradiation resulted in significant engraftment of BMT-derived cells in brain, where these cells were exclusively localized to perivascular, leptomeningeal, and related anatomic regions. Engraftment in retina under 5.5 Gy NMyA conditions was significantly reduced compared to MyA, but robust engraftment was identified in optic nerve. Advancing the therapeutic applications of BMT to neurodegenerative diseases will require identification of the barrier mechanisms MyA, but not NMyA, is able to overcome.
The current consensus criteria for the neuropathologic diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), known as the National Institute on Aging/Reagan Institute of the Alzheimer Association Consensus Recommendations for the Postmortem Diagnosis of AD or NIA-Reagan Criteria , were published in 1997 (hereafter referred to as “1997 Criteria”). Knowledge of AD and the tools used for clinical investigation of cognitive impairment and dementia have advanced substantially since then and have prompted this update on the neuropathologic assessment of AD.
We present a practical guide for the implementation of recently revised National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association guidelines for the neuropathologic assessment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Major revisions from previous consensus criteria are: (i) recognition that AD neuropathologic changes may occur in the apparent absence of cognitive impairment, (ii) an “ABC” score for AD neuropathologic change that incorporates histopathologic assessments of amyloid β deposits (A), staging of neurofibrillary tangles (B), and scoring of neuritic plaques (C), and (iii) more detailed approaches for assessing commonly co-morbid conditions such as Lewy body disease, vascular brain injury, hippocampal sclerosis, and TAR DNA binding protein (TDP)-43 immunoreactive inclusions. Recommendations also are made for the minimum sampling of brain, preferred staining methods with acceptable alternatives, reporting of results, and clinico-pathologic correlations.
Alzheimer's disease is a common debilitating dementia with known heritability, for which 20 late onset susceptibility loci have been identified, but more remain to be discovered. This study sought to identify new susceptibility genes, using an alternative gene-wide analytical approach which tests for patterns of association within genes, in the powerful genome-wide association dataset of the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project Consortium, comprising over 7 m genotypes from 25,580 Alzheimer's cases and 48,466 controls.
In addition to earlier reported genes, we detected genome-wide significant loci on chromosomes 8 (TP53INP1, p = 1.4×10−6) and 14 (IGHV1-67 p = 7.9×10−8) which indexed novel susceptibility loci.
The additional genes identified in this study, have an array of functions previously implicated in Alzheimer's disease, including aspects of energy metabolism, protein degradation and the immune system and add further weight to these pathways as potential therapeutic targets in Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia and has no cure. Genetic, cell biological, and biochemical studies suggest that reducing amyloid-β (Aβ) production may serve as a rational therapeutic avenue to delay or prevent AD progression. Inhibition of RhoA, a Rho GTPase family member, is proposed to curb Aβ production. However, a barrier to this hypothesis has been the limited understanding of how the principal downstream effectors of RhoA, Rho-associated, coiled-coil containing protein kinase (ROCK) 1 and ROCK2, modulate Aβ generation. Here, we report that ROCK1 knockdown increased endogenous human Aβ production, whereas ROCK2 knockdown decreased Aβ levels. Inhibition of ROCK2 kinase activity, using an isoform-selective small molecule (SR3677), suppressed β-site APP cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) enzymatic action and diminished production of Aβ in AD mouse brain. Immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy analyses revealed that SR3677 alters BACE1 endocytic distribution and promotes amyloid precursor protein (APP) traffic to lysosomes. Moreover, SR3677 blocked ROCK2 phosphorylation of APP at threonine 654 (T654); in neurons, T654 was critical for APP processing to Aβ. These observations suggest that ROCK2 inhibition reduces Aβ levels through independent mechanisms. Finally, ROCK2 protein levels were increased in asymptomatic AD, mild cognitive impairment, and AD brains, demonstrating that ROCK2 levels change in the earliest stages of AD and remain elevated throughout disease progression. Collectively, these findings highlight ROCK2 as a mechanism-based therapeutic target to combat Aβ production in AD.
Biomarker development is important to the therapeutic imperative for
neurodegenerative diseases, as biomarkers hold transformative promise for the
design and conduct of clinical trials and, ultimately, for medical management of
these diseases. Some of this promise is now being realized in Alzheimer disease,
and progress in Parkinson disease is accelerating.
The largest genetic risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) resides at the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) locus, which has three common alleles (ε2, ε3, ε4) that encode three isoforms (apoE2, apoE3, apoE4). The very strong association of the APOE ε4 allele with AD risk and its role in the accumulation of amyloid β and animal models solidify the biological relevance of apoE isoforms but do not provide mechanistic insight. The innate immune response is consistently observed in AD and is a likely contributor to neuronal injury and response to injury. Here we review emerging data showing that apoE isoform regulation of multiple facets of the innate immune response in the brain may alter AD not only through amyloid β-dependent mechanisms, but also through other, amyloid β-independent mechanisms.
Eleven susceptibility loci for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) were identified by previous studies; however, a large portion of the genetic risk for this disease remains unexplained. We conducted a large, two-stage meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in individuals of European ancestry. In stage 1, we used genotyped and imputed data (7,055,881 SNPs) to perform meta-analysis on 4 previously published GWAS data sets consisting of 17,008 Alzheimer’s disease cases and 37,154 controls. In stage 2,11,632 SNPs were genotyped and tested for association in an independent set of 8,572 Alzheimer’s disease cases and 11,312 controls. In addition to the APOE locus (encoding apolipoprotein E), 19 loci reached genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8) in the combined stage 1 and stage 2 analysis, of which 11 are newly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly. Although the etiology of AD remains unclear, microglia-mediated neuroinflammation is believed to play an important role in its pathogenesis. Microglial activation occurs in AD and is characterized by apparent phagocytic activity and by increased production and secretion of several cytokines, chemokines, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, prostaglandin (PG)E2, and neurotrophic factors. Microglial activation can be neuroprotective through the release of neurotrophic factors and by phagocytosing Aβ, a critical neurotoxic component in AD brain. Concurrently, microglial activation causes elevated inflammatory responses that lead to paracrine damage to neurons. Therefore, a well-controlled microglial activation that diminishes microglial-mediated oxidative damage while promoting neuronal protection may be the key for AD therapy. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) has recently gained increasing attention in AD due to its function as a molecular target for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In this review, we will discuss the role of PPARγ in microglial innate immunity in AD and how pharmacological manipulation of microglial activation using PPARγ ligands might facilitate the treatment of AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; microglial activation; PPARγ; neuroinflammation; β-amyloid; therapy
Biomarkers are one type of laboratory testing being developed in response to the therapeutic imperative for diseases that cause cognitive impairment and dementia. The role of biomarkers is already transforming the organization and conduct of clinical trials, and if successful will likely contribute in the future to the medical management of patients with these diseases. Despite the obvious utility of practicality of blood- or urine-based biomarkers, so far results from these fluid compartments have not been reproducible. In contrast, substantial progress has been made in cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers. Here we review the stages of cerebrospinal fluid biomarker development for several common and unusual diseases that cause cognitive impairment and dementia, stressing the distinction between diagnostic and mechanistic biomarkers. Future applications will likely focus on diagnosis of latent or early-stage disease, assessment of disease progression, mechanism of injury, and response to experimental therapeutics.
Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; vascular brain injury; biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluid; neurodegenerative disorders; mild cognitive impairment
The neuropathology underlying dementia syndromes in older populations is complex. The contributions of Alzheimer’s and Lewy body pathology are well appreciated. Recent studies with brain autopsies have highlighted the high prevalence of vascular disease as an independent, but often co-morbid contributor to dementia. The Adult Changes in Thought Study is a community-based, longitudinal study of brain aging and cognitive decline which has recently confirmed cerebral microinfarcts as a strong correlate of cognitive impairment and dementia. This study examines correlations between clinical characteristics including extensive, longitudinal medication histories, and longitudinal cognitive testing against structural and biochemical features of disease. Keywords: Aging, community-based, microinfarct, longitudinal, neuropathology.
Aging; community-based; microinfarct; longitudinal; neuropathology
The cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying MRI-defined white matter (WM) changes associated with age-related cognitive decline remain poorly defined. We tested the hypothesis that WM lesions in older adults, defined by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), arise in the setting of vascular brain injury (VBI) and are characterized by increased free radical injury and aberrant oligodendrocyte lineage (OL) cell response to injury.
We undertook a multimodal analysis of prefrontal cortex (PFC) WM from twenty-five autopsies derived from a population-based cohort where VBI and Alzheimer's Disease (AD) frequently coincide. Ex-vivo high field strength DTI measurements of fractional anisotropy (FA), apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), and axial (D∥) and radial (D⊥) diffusivity were measured at high magnetic field strength (11.7 T) and analyzed relative to quantitative in vivo biomarkers of free radical injury, an OL-specific marker Olig2, and histologic evaluation of hyaluronan (HA), an inhibitor of OL maturation.
Coincident AD and VBI showed significant association with lower FA and a robust relationship between decreasing FA and increasing D⊥. Free radical injury to docosahexaenoate and adrenate in PFC WM was significantly elevated in cases with VBI independent of AD, and were inversely correlated with FA. Similarly, increased density of Olig2-immunoreactive cells in PFC WM was significantly associated with VBI independent of AD and co-localized with regions enriched in HA.
DTI-defined PFC WM lesions in older individuals are characterized by free radical injury to myelin and neuro-axonal elements that coincides with pronounced expansion of the pool of OL cells in HA-rich regions.
white matter; vascular brain injury; Alzheimer's disease; diffusion tensor imaging; oxidative damage; oligodendroglia
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), cerebral vascular brain injury (VBI), and isocortical Lewy body (LB) disease (LBD) are the major contributors to dementia in community- or population-based studies: Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study, Honolulu-Asia Aging Study (HAAS), Nun Study (NS), and Oregon Brain Aging Study (OBAS). However, the prevalence of clinically silent forms of these diseases in cognitively normal (CN) adults is less clear.
DESIGN and SETTING
We evaluated 1672 brain autopsies from ACT, HAAS, NS, and OBAS of which 424 met criteria for CN.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Of these, 336 cases had a comprehensive neuropathologic examination of neuritic plaque (NP) density, Braak stage for neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), Lewy body (LB) distribution, and number of cerebral microinfarcts (CMIs).
47% of CN cases had moderate or frequent NP density; of these 6% also had Braak stage V or VI for NFTs. 15% of CN cases had medullary LBD; 8% also had nigral and 4% isocortical LBD. The presence of any CMIs was identified in 33% and high level CMIs in 10% of CN individuals. Overall burden of lesions in each individual and their co-morbidity varied widely within each study but were similar among studies.
These data show an individually varying complex convergence of subclinical diseases in the brain of older CN adults. Appreciating this ecology should help guide future biomarker or neuroimaging studies as well as clinical trials that focus on community- or population-based cohorts.
Alzheimer’s disease; vascular brain injury; Lewy body disease; cognitive aging
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) neuropathology is characterized by innate immune activation primarily through prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) signaling. Dedicator of cytokinesis 2 (DOCK2) is a guanyl nucleotide exchange factor expressed exclusively in microglia in the brain and is regulated by PGE2 receptor EP2. DOCK2 modulates microglia cytokine secretion, phagocytosis, and paracrine neurotoxicity. EP2 ablation in experimental AD results in reduced oxidative damage and amyloid beta (Aβ) burden. This discovery led us to hypothesize that genetic ablation of DOCK2 would replicate the anti-Aβ effects of loss of EP2 in experimental AD. To test this hypothesis, we crossed mice that lacked DOCK2 (DOCK2−/−), were hemizygous for DOCK2 (DOCK2+/−), or that expressed two DOCK2 genes (DOCK2+/+) with APPswe-PS1Δe9 mice (a model of AD). While we found no DOCK2-dependent differences in cortex or in hippocampal microglia density or morphology in APPswe-PS1Δe9 mice, cerebral cortical and hippocampal Aβ plaque area and size were significantly reduced in 10-month-old APPswe-PS1Δe9/DOCK2−/− mice compared with APPswe-PS1Δe9/DOCK2+/+ controls. DOCK2 hemizygous APPswe-PS1Δe9 mice had intermediate Aβ plaque levels. Interestingly, soluble Aβ42 was not significantly different among the three genotypes, suggesting the effects were mediated specifically in fibrillar Aβ. In combination with earlier cell culture results, our in vivo results presented here suggest DOCK2 contributes to Aβ plaque burden via regulation of microglial innate immune function and may represent a novel therapeutic target for AD.
innate immunity; microglia; amyloid beta; PGE2 receptor EP2; Alzheimer’s disease