A paucity of cancer in individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and low rates of AD
in cancer survivors has been reported in epidemiological studies. Deregulation in opposite
directions of biological mechanisms, such as susceptibility to cell death, might be shared
in the two disorders. We analyzed lymphocytes from AD and skin cancer patients as well as
healthy controls and found significantly increased vulnerability of AD lymphocytes to
H2O2-induced apoptotic death and higher resistance to death of
skin cancer lymphocytes, due to reduced necrosis, as compared with healthy controls by
pairwise comparisons adjusted for age and sex. H2O2-induced death in
lymphocytes was caspase independent and significantly reduced by PARP-1 inhibition in all
three groups. These differences in the susceptibility to cell death observed for
lymphocytes from AD and skin cancer patients may be one of the mechanisms that help
explain the inverse correlation detected between these diseases in epidemiological
Alzheimer; Cancer; Cell death; Apoptosis; Necrosis
Offspring whose parents have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are at increased risk for developing dementia. Patients with AD typically exhibit disruptions in the default mode network (DMN). The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a family history of late-onset AD on DMN integrity in cognitively normal individuals. In particular, we determined whether a family history effect is detectable in apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele non-carriers.
We studied a cohort of 348 cognitively normal participants with or without family history of late-onset AD. DMN integrity was assessed by resting state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging.
A family history of late-onset AD was associated with reduced resting state functional connectivity between particular nodes of the DMN, namely the posterior cingulate and medial temporal cortex. The observed functional connectivity reduction was not attributable to medial temporal structural atrophy. Importantly, we detected a family history effect on DMN functional connectivity in APOE ε4 allele non-carriers.
Unknown genetic factors, embodied in a family history of late-onset AD, may affect DMN integrity prior to cognitive impairment.
Relationships between late-life hypertension and AD remain less clear. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal methods were used to examine whether systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), pulse pressure (PP), mean arterial pressure (MAP), and self-reported hypertension (S-HTN) in late life were associated with having and developing AD. In the cross-sectional examination were 1,768 individuals with AD and 818 nondemented individual, and AD was not significantly associated with S-HTN or any of blood pressure measures (S-HTN: p=0.236; SBP: p=0.095; DBP: p=0.429; PP: p=0.145; MAP: p=0.162). In the longitudinal examination, 594 nondemented individuals, 171 with and 423 without self-reported hypertension at entry, were included. DBP was significantly related to the development of AD (p=0.030), but not S-HTN (p=0.251), SBP (p=0.294) PP (p=0.919), and MAP (p=0.060). The association underscores the necessity of further investigation to outline the detailed mechanisms and biological relevance, if any, of late-life DBP to later AD.
hypertension; systolic blood pressure; diastolic blood pressure; pulse pressure; mean arterial pressure; Alzheimer's disease
To evaluate the combination of cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers of Aβ42, tau, and phosphorylated tau (ptau181) with education and normalized whole brain volume (nWBV) to predict incident cognitive impairment and test the cognitive/brain reserve hypothesis.
Longitudinal cohort study.
Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center of Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.
Convenience sample of 197 participants aged 50 years and above, with normal cognition (Clinical Dementia Rating [CDR] of 0) at baseline, followed for a mean of 3.3 years.
Main outcome measure
Time to cognitive impairment (CDR ≥ 0.5).
Three-factor interactions between the baseline biomarker values, education, and nWBV were found for Cox proportional hazards models testing tau (p=.03) and ptau (p=.008). Among those with lower tau values, nWBV (hazard ratio [HR]=.54, 95% confidence interval [CI]=.31–.91; p=.02), but not education, was related to time to cognitive impairment. For participants with higher tau values, education interacted with nWBV to predict incident impairment (p=.01). For individuals with lower ptau values, there was no effect of education or nWBV. Education interacted with nWBV to predict incident cognitive impairment among those with higher ptau values (p=.02). In models testing Aβ42, larger nWBV was associated with a slower time to cognitive impairment (HR=.84, 95%CI=.71–.99, p=.0348), but there was no effect of Aβ42 or education.
Among individuals with higher levels of CSF tau and ptau, but normal cognition at baseline, time to incident cognitive impairment is moderated by education and brain volume as predicted by the cognitive/brain reserve hypothesis.
To assess whether family history (FH) of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) alone influences AD biomarker abnormalities.
Adult Children Study (ACS).
Washington University's Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.
Cognitively normal middle to older age individuals with and without a FH for AD (n=269).
Main Outcome Measures
Clinical and cognitive measures, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based brain volumes, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)-based white matter microstructure, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers, and molecular imaging of cerebral fibrillar amyloid with positron emission tomography (PET) using the [11C] benzothiazole tracer, Pittsburgh Compound-B (PIB).
A positive FH for AD was associated with an age-related decrease of CSF Aβ42; the ε4 allele of apolipoprotein E (APOE4) did not alter this effect. Age-adjusted CSF Aβ42 was decreased for individuals with APOE4 compared with those without, and the decrease was larger for individuals with a positive FH compared with those without. The variation of CSF tau and PIB mean cortical binding potential (MCBP) increased by age. For individuals younger than 55, an age-related increase in MCBP was associated with APOE4, but not FH. For individuals older than 55, a positive FH and a positive APOE4 implied the fastest age-related increase in MCBP. A positive FH was associated with decreased fractional anisotropy from DTI in the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum.
Independent of APOE4, FH is associated with age-related change of several CSF, PIB and DTI biomarkers in cognitively normal middle to older age individuals, suggesting that non-APOE susceptibility genes for AD influence AD biomarkers.
Disease-modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) would be most beneficial if applied during the ‘preclinical’ stage (pathology present with cognition intact) before significant neuronal loss occurs. Therefore, biomarkers that can detect AD pathology in its early stages and predict dementia onset and progression will be invaluable for patient care and efficient clinical trial design.
2D–difference gel electrophoresis and liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry were used to measure AD-associated changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Concentrations of CSF YKL-40 were further evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in the discovery cohort (N=47), an independent sample set (N=292) with paired plasma samples (N=237), frontotemporal lobar degeneration (N=9), and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP, N=6). Human AD brain was studied immunohistochemically to identify potential source(s) of YKL-40.
In the discovery and validation cohorts, mean CSF YKL-40 was higher in very mild and mild AD-type dementia (Clinical Dementia Rating [CDR] 0.5 and 1) vs. controls (CDR 0) and PSP. Importantly, CSF YKL-40/Aβ42 ratio predicted risk of developing cognitive impairment (CDR 0 to CDR>0 conversion) as well as the best CSF biomarkers identified to date, tau/Aβ42 and p-tau181/Aβ42. Mean plasma YKL-40 was higher in CDR 0.5 and 1 vs. CDR 0 groups, and correlated with CSF levels. YKL-40 immunoreactivity was observed within astrocytes near a subset of amyloid plaques, implicating YKL-40 in the neuroinflammatory response to Aβ deposition.
These data demonstrate that YKL-40, a putative indicator of neuroinflammation, is elevated in AD, and that, together with Aβ42, has potential prognostic utility as a biomarker for preclinical AD.
YKL-40; Alzheimer’s disease; biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluid; chitinase-3 like-1; inflammation
To appraise the relationship of a task assessing memory for recent autobiographical events and those of two commonly used brief memory tasks with the results of a clinical assessment for dementia.
Design, Setting, and Participants
We compared correlations between a task assessing recall of recent autobiographical events and two frequently-used brief clinical memory measures with dementia ratings by clinicians. Participants were enrolled in Washington University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center studies, were aged 60 years or above, and took part in assessments between May 2002 and August 2005 (N=425).
Main Outcome Measures
Nonparametric, rank-based Spearman correlations, adjusted for age and education, between the Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB) and scores on the autobiographical recall query and two clinical memory tasks taken from the Mini-Mental State Exam and the Short Blessed Test.
The autobiographical recall task and each of the other brief clinical measures correlated significantly with the CDR-SB (p<.0001). The autobiographical recall task had a significantly higher correlation (p<.0001) with the CDR-SB than the two commonly-used clinical memory measures.
Clinicians may find autobiographical memories an important indicator of clinical memory function and the autobiographical query a useful tool when assessing for dementia.
This paper is a report of a study to establish the inter-rater reliability of advanced practice nurse and neurologist neurological assessments which included ratings with the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale-Motor Exam.
Around the world, advanced practice nurses are performing tasks once completed by only physicians. To promote consumer and provider confidence, it is important to establish that nurse and physician ratings using assessment tools are similar. In addition in research settings, when different raters are used, establishment of inter-rater reliability for study assessments is needed.
Advanced practice nurses and neurologists independently recorded findings on neurological examinations of 46 participants in a study conducted between August 2007 and January 2008. An intraclass correlation coefficient was calculated to estimate overall agreement between the nurse and neurologist ratings. Agreement for individual items measured on a dichotomous scale was assessed by calculating Cohen’s kappa.
There was substantial agreement between advanced practice nurses and neurologists on the mean Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale-Motor Exam ratings (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.65) and the U.S. National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center Uniform Data Set neurological examination ratings of unremarkable findings (kappa = 0.74) and of gait disorder (kappa = 0.73). Moderate agreement (kappa = 0.53) was reached for the rating of whether all Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale-Motor Exam items were normal.
These findings are consistent with studies of the inter-rater agreement of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale-Motor Exam and support the conduct of neurological assessments by advanced practice nurses.
Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale; advanced practice nurse; neurologist; inter-rater reliability; neurological examination
Associations between medication use and the development of Alzheimer’s disease have been investigated since the late 1900s. Thyroid hormone supplementation is rarely a studied medication class in this area of research. We examined data from participants enrolled in longitudinal studies at the Washington University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center for associations between thyroid disease, thyroid hormone supplementation therapy, and subsequent development of dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT). Data collected between April 1992 and June 2008 from 499 participants, 184 men and 315 women, were analyzed. Mean age was 76.9 years (S.D. = 9.2). At baseline, 61 participants reported thyroid medication use and 87 were identified as having a history of thyroid dysfunction. These participants progressed to a DAT diagnosis more rapidly than individuals not taking thyroid medication (HR: 1.67, 95% CI: 0.99–2.78, p = 0.054). While an interesting trend was seen, baseline thyroid disease was not significantly (p=.093) associated with time to DAT diagnosis. Our findings suggest that utilization of thyroid medication may be associated with the development of DAT.
thyroid; dysfunction; hormone replacement; Alzheimer’s; dementia
The aim was to develop a brief physical performance assessment tool that can be reliably used to detect physical impairment in older adults with and without mild dementia. Scores on the 9-item physical performance test (PPT) from non-demented participants were used to develop and validate the 4-item mini-PPT. The validated mini-PPT was then used to predict total PPT score and functional physical status in participants with mild dementia. Receiver Operating Curve (ROC) analyses were used to generate a cut off score that classifies participants as functional vs. not functional. The setting was in the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (Washington University). A total of 1,199 participants met inclusion criteria: 574 non demented participants, 436 with very mild dementia, measured by the clinical dementia rating (CDR) = 0.5 and 189 with mild dementia (CDR = 1). The mean age of the sample was 76.4 years, mean educational attainment was 14 years, 58% were women, and 11% were African American. A 4-item scale, the mini-PPT, was developed (based on the results of multiple regression analyses and clinical meaningfulness) that highly correlated with total PPT score (r = 0.917, p < 0.0001) in the non-demented sample The correlation of the mini-PPT with total PPT was 0.90 among those with very mild, and 0.91 among those with mild dementia. Using the ROCs, a cut off score of 12 correctly classified at least 85% of non demented and demented persons. The 4-item mini-PPT is highly correlated with the 9-item PPT in non demented and mildly demented persons. This brief tool may be useful in detecting early physical impairment in the clinical setting.
physical performance; assessment of physical performance; Alzheimer’s disease; dementia
To examine interactions of Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype with age and with in vivo measures of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in cognitively normal aging.
Two hundred and 41 cognitively normal individuals, age 45 to 88 years, had cerebral amyloid imaging studies with Pittsburgh Compound-B (PIB). Of the 241 individuals, 168 (70%) also had cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) assays of amyloid-beta42 (Aβ42), tau, and phosphorylated tau (ptau181). All individuals were genotyped for APOE.
The frequency of individuals with elevated mean cortical binding potential (MCBP) for PIB rose in an age-dependent manner from 0% at ages 45-49 years to 30.3% at 80-88 years. Reduced levels of CSF Aβ42 appear to begin earlier (18.2% of those age 45-49 years) and increase with age in higher frequencies (50% at age 80-88 years) than elevations of MCBP. There is a gene dose effect for the APOE4 genotype, with greater MCBP increases and greater reductions in CSF Aβ42 with increased numbers of APOE4 alleles. Individuals with an APOE2 have no increase in MCBP with age and have higher CSF Aβ42 levels than individuals without an APOE2 allele. There is no APOE4 or APOE2 effect on CSF tau or ptau181.
Increasing cerebral Aβ deposition with age is the pathobiological phenotype of APOE4. The biomarker sequence that detects Aβ deposition may first be lowered CSF Aβ42, followed by elevated MCBP for PIB. A substantial proportion of cognitively normal individuals have presumptive preclinical AD.
preclinical Alzheimer’s disease; Alzheimer’s biomarkers; Aβ; amyloid imaging (PIB); APOE
To determine whether preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD), as detected by the amyloid imaging agent Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB) in cognitively normal older adults, is associated with risk of symptomatic AD.
A longitudinal cohort study of cognitively normal older adults assessed with positron emission tomography (PET) to determine the mean cortical binding potential for PIB and followed with annual clinical and cognitive assessments for progression to very mild dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT).
Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
One hundred and fifty-nine participants with mean age of 71.5 y in a longitudinal study of memory and aging had a PET PIB scan when cognitively normal with Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) of 0.
Progression from CDR 0 status to CDR 0.5 (very mild dementia).
Twenty-three participants progressed to CDR 0.5 at follow-up assessment (range: 1–5 assessments after PET PIB). Of these, 9 also were diagnosed with DAT. Higher MCBP values for PIB (hazard ratio 4.85, 95% CI, 1.22–19.01, p = .02) and age (hazard ratio 1.14, 95% CI 1.02–1.28, p = .03) predicted progression to CDR 0.5 DAT. The CDR 0.5 DAT group showed decline in three cognitive domains (episodic memory, semantic memory, and visuospatial performance) and had volume loss in the parahippocampal gyrus (includes entorhinal cortex) compared with individuals who remained CDR 0.
Preclinical AD, as detected by PET PIB, is not benign as it is associated with progression to symptomatic AD.
To determine the frequency and possible cognitive effect of histological Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in autopsied older nondemented individuals.
Senile plaques (SPs) and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) were assessed quantitatively in 97 cases from 7 Alzheimer’s Disease Centers (ADCs). Neuropathological diagnoses of AD (npAD) were also made with four sets of criteria. Adjusted linear mixed models tested differences between participants with and without npAD on the quantitative neuropathology measures and psychometric test scores prior to death. Spearman rank-order correlations between AD lesions and psychometric scores at last assessment were calculated for cases with pathology in particular regions.
Washington University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
Ninety-seven nondemented participants who were age 60 years or older at death (mean = 84 years).
About 40% of nondemented individuals met at least some level of criteria for npAD; when strict criteria were used, about 20% of cases had npAD. Substantial overlap of Braak neurofibrillary stages occurred between npAD and no-npAD cases. Although there was no measurable cognitive impairment prior to death for either the no-npAD or npAD groups, cognitive function in nondemented aging appears to be degraded by the presence of NFTs and SPs.
Neuropathological processes related to AD in persons without dementia appear to be associated with subtle cognitive dysfunction and may represent a preclinical stage of the illness. By age 80–85 years, many nondemented older adults have substantial AD pathology.
preclinical Alzheimer’s disease; nondemented aging; neuropathological Alzheimer’s disease
Diagnostic drift characterizes change in diagnosis and diagnostic classification over time. The Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) is used commonly in dementia diagnosis and staging of dementia severity. Whether increasing efforts to diagnose dementia at earlier symptomatic stages has led to diagnostic drift in the CDR is unknown.
To examine dementia severity as determined by the CDR over time.
Secondary analysis of data from longitudinal studies of aging and dementia.
An Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC), where a variety of clinicians contributed CDR ratings over the course of the study.
Adults aged 63 to 83 years with no (CDR 0), very mild (CDR 0.5) or mild (CDR 1) dementia enrolled in the ADRC at any time from August 1979 to May 2007.
Main Outcome Measures
Within each CDR group changes in scores on standardized psychometric tests with time were examined using multiple linear regression analyses. These tests included the Mini Mental State Examination, Short Blessed Test, Wechsler Memory Scale Logical Memory IA-Immediate, Blessed Dementia Scale, and a psychometric composite score.
A total of 1768 participants met inclusion criteria. Over time, participants were older, more educated, more likely to be minorities, and less likely to be male. Statistically significant change in psychometric test performance over time occurred only within the CDR 1 group for Logical Memory and the psychometric composite, but the degree of change was minimal.
Despite changes in participant characteristics, the CDR demonstrates general stability for assessment of dementia over almost three decades.
Cancer and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are two common disorders for which the final pathophysiological mechanism is not yet clearly defined. In a prospective longitudinal study we have previously shown an inverse association between AD and cancer, such that the rate of developing cancer in general with time was significantly slower in participants with AD, while participants with a history of cancer had a slower rate of developing AD. In cancer, cell regulation mechanisms are disrupted with augmentation of cell survival and/or proliferation, whereas conversely, AD is associated with increased neuronal death, either caused by, or concomitant with, beta amyloid (Aβ) and tau deposition. The possibility that perturbations of mechanisms involved in cell survival/death regulation could be involved in both disorders is discussed. Genetic polymorphisms, DNA methylation or other mechanisms that induce changes in activity of molecules with key roles in determining the decision to “repair and live”- or “die” could be involved in the pathogenesis of the two disorders. As examples, the role of p53, Pin1 and the Wnt signaling pathway are discussed as potential candidates that, speculatively, may explain inverse associations between AD and cancer.
Alzheimer; cancer; tumor suppressors; Pin1; Wnt signaling pathway
To examine whether reported age at onset (AAO) of dementia symptoms among participants with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is later for those with fewer years of education and, if so, to see if it is attributed to delayed detection of symptoms.
National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center Minimum Data Set (N=21,880 participants) and Washington University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (N=1,449 participants).
Reported AAO of dementia symptoms is slightly earlier for participants with more education. Participants with fewer years of education show greater clinical severity of AD at first assessment.
Symptoms of AD are recognized later among those with less education.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology is estimated to develop many years before detectable cognitive decline. Fluid and imaging biomarkers may identify people in early symptomatic and even preclinical stages, possibly when potential treatments can best preserve cognitive function. We previously reported that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of amyloid-β42 (Aβ42) serve as an excellent marker for brain amyloid as detected by the amyloid tracer, Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB). Using data from 189 cognitively normal participants, we now report a positive linear relationship between CSF tau/ptau181 (primary constituents of neurofibrillary tangles) with the amount of cortical amyloid. We observe a strong inverse relationship of cortical PIB binding with CSF Aβ42 but not for plasma Aβ species. Some individuals have low CSF Aβ42 but no cortical PIB binding. Together, these data suggest that changes in brain Aβ42 metabolism and amyloid formation are early pathogenic events in AD, and that significant disruptions in CSF tau metabolism likely occur after Aβ42 initially aggregates and increases as amyloid accumulates. These findings have important implications for preclinical AD diagnosis and treatment.
Amyloid; biomarker; cerebrospinal fluid; Pittsburgh Compound B; preclinical Alzheimer's disease
To evaluate the cognitive reserve hypothesis by examining whether individuals of greater educational attainment have better cognitive function than individuals with less education in the presence of elevated fibrillar brain amyloid.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Uptake of N-methyl-[11C]2-(4′-methylaminophenyl)-6-hydroybenzothiazole, or [11C]PIB for “Pittsburgh Compound-B,” was measured for participants assessed between August 15, 2003 and January 8, 2008 at the Washington University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and diagnosed either as nondemented (N=161) or with dementia of the Alzheimer type (N=37). Multiple regression was used to determine whether [11C]PIB uptake interacted with level of educational attainment to predict cognitive function.
Main Outcome Measures
Scores on the Clinical Dementia Rating - Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB), Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE), and Short Blessed Test (SBT), and individual measures from a psychometric battery.
[11C]PIB uptake interacted with years of education in predicting scores on the CDR-SB (p=.003), the MMSE (p<.001), the SBT (p=.03) and a measure of verbal abstract reasoning and conceptualization (p=.02), such that performance on these measures increased with increasing education for participants with elevated PIB uptake. Education was unrelated to global cognitive functioning scores among those with lower PIB uptake.
These results support the hypothesis that cognitive reserve influences the association between Alzheimer disease pathology and cognition.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology is estimated to develop many years before detectable cognitive decline. Fluid and imaging biomarkers may identify people in early symptomatic and even preclinical stages, possibly when potential treatments can best preserve cognitive function. We previously reported that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of amyloid-β42 (Aβ42) serve as an excellent marker for brain amyloid as detected by the amyloid tracer, Pittsburgh compound B (PIB). Using data from 189 cognitively normal participants, we now report a positive linear relationship between CSF tau/ptau181 (primary constituents of neurofibrillary tangles) with the amount of cortical amyloid. We observe a strong inverse relationship of cortical PIB binding with CSF Aβ42 but not for plasma Aβ species. Some individuals have low CSF Aβ42 but no cortical PIB binding. Together, these data suggest that changes in brain Aβ42 metabolism and amyloid formation are early pathogenic events in AD, and that significant disruptions in CSF tau metabolism likely occur after Aβ42 initially aggregates and increases as amyloid accumulates. These findings have important implications for preclinical AD diagnosis and treatment.
amyloid; biomarker; cerebrospinal fluid; Pittsburgh compound B; preclinical Alzheimer's disease
In exploring the cognitive reserve hypothesis in persons with substantial Alzheimer disease neuropathology, we aimed to determine the extent to which educational attainment and densities of diffuse plaques, neuritic plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles predict dementia. Participants were 1563 individuals aged 65 years or above who were assessed for dementia within 1 year of death. Generalized linear mixed models were used to examine whether education and density ratings of diffuse plaques and neuritic plaques, and neurofibrillary tangle stage were associated with a dementia diagnosis. Education interacted with densities of neuritic plaques to predict dementia. Tangle density independently predicted dementia, but did not interact with education. Diffuse plaque density was unrelated to dementia when adjusted for densities of neuritic plaques and tangles. Among individuals with Alzheimer disease neuropathology, educational attainment, as a surrogate of cognitive reserve, modifies the influence of neuritic, but not diffuse, plaque neuropathology on the expression of dementia.
Alzheimer disease; cognitive reserve; education; neuropathology
Ideally, disease modifying therapies for Alzheimer disease (AD) will be applied during the ‘preclinical’ stage (pathology present with cognition intact) before severe neuronal damage occurs, or upon recognizing very mild cognitive impairment. Developing and judiciously administering such therapies will require biomarker panels to identify early AD pathology, classify disease stage, monitor pathological progression, and predict cognitive decline. To discover such biomarkers, we measured AD-associated changes in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) proteome.
Methods and Findings
CSF samples from individuals with mild AD (Clinical Dementia Rating [CDR] 1) (n = 24) and cognitively normal controls (CDR 0) (n = 24) were subjected to two-dimensional difference-in-gel electrophoresis. Within 119 differentially-abundant gel features, mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) identified 47 proteins. For validation, eleven proteins were re-evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Six of these assays (NrCAM, YKL-40, chromogranin A, carnosinase I, transthyretin, cystatin C) distinguished CDR 1 and CDR 0 groups and were subsequently applied (with tau, p-tau181 and Aβ42 ELISAs) to a larger independent cohort (n = 292) that included individuals with very mild dementia (CDR 0.5). Receiver-operating characteristic curve analyses using stepwise logistic regression yielded optimal biomarker combinations to distinguish CDR 0 from CDR>0 (tau, YKL-40, NrCAM) and CDR 1 from CDR<1 (tau, chromogranin A, carnosinase I) with areas under the curve of 0.90 (0.85–0.94 95% confidence interval [CI]) and 0.88 (0.81–0.94 CI), respectively.
Four novel CSF biomarkers for AD (NrCAM, YKL-40, chromogranin A, carnosinase I) can improve the diagnostic accuracy of Aβ42 and tau. Together, these six markers describe six clinicopathological stages from cognitive normalcy to mild dementia, including stages defined by increased risk of cognitive decline. Such a panel might improve clinical trial efficiency by guiding subject enrollment and monitoring disease progression. Further studies will be required to validate this panel and evaluate its potential for distinguishing AD from other dementing conditions.