Here we review progress by the Penn Biomarker Core in the Alzheimer's disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) towards developing a pathological cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma biomarker signature for mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) as well as a biomarker profile that predicts conversion of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and/or normal control (NC) subjects to AD. The Penn Biomarker Core also collaborated with other ADNI Cores to integrate data across ADNI to temporally order changes in clinical measures, imaging data and chemical biomarkers that serve as mileposts and predictors of the conversion of NC to MCI as well as MCI to AD, and the progression of AD.
Initial CSF studies by the ADNI Biomarker Core revealed a pathological CSF biomarker signature of AD defined by the combination of Aβ1-42 and total tau (T-tau) that effectively delineates mild AD in the large multisite prospective clinical investigation conducted in ADNI. This signature appears to predict conversion from MCI to AD. Data fusion efforts across ADNI Cores generated a model for the temporal ordering of AD biomarkers which suggests that Aβ amyloid biomarkers become abnormal first, followed by changes in neurodegenerative biomarkers (CSF tau, FDG-PET, MRI) and the onset of clinical symptoms. The timing of these changes varies in individual patients due to genetic and environmental factors that increase or decrease an individual's resilience in response to progressive accumulations of AD pathologies. Further studies in ADNI will refine this model and render the biomarkers studied in ADNI more applicable to routine diagnosis and to clinical trials of disease modifying therapies.
Alzheimer's disease; cerebrospinal fluid; plasma; biomarkers; mild cognitive impairment
Based on the amyloid hypothesis, controlling β-amyloid protein (Aβ) accumulation is supposed to suppress downstream pathological events, tau accumulation, neurodegeneration and cognitive decline. However, in recent clinical trials, Aβ removal or reducing Aβ production has shown limited efficacy. Moreover, while active immunisation with Aβ resulted in the clearance of Aβ, it did not prevent tau pathology or neurodegeneration. This prompts the concern that it might be too late to employ Aβ targeting therapies once tau mediated neurodegeneration has occurred. Therefore, it is timely and very important to develop tau directed therapies. The pathomechanisms of tau mediated neurodegeneration are unclear but hyperphosphorylation, oligomerisation, fibrillisation and propagation of tau pathology have been proposed as the likely pathological processes that induce loss of function or gain of toxic function of tau, causing neurodegeneration. Here we review the strategies for tau directed treatments based on recent progress in research on tau and our understanding of the pathomechanisms of tau mediated neurodegeneration.
To test for an association between the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele and dementias with synucleinopathy.
Genetic case-control association study.
Autopsied subjects were classified into 5 categories: dementia with high-level Alzheimer disease (AD) neuropathologic changes (NCs) but without Lewy body disease (LBD) NCs (AD group; n=244), dementia with LBDNCs and high-level ADNCs (LBD-AD group; n=224), dementia with LBDNCs and no or low levels of ADNCs (pure DLB [pDLB] group; n=91), Parkinson disease dementia (PDD) with no or low levels of ADNCs (n=81), and control group (n=269).
Main Outcome Measure
The APOE allele frequencies.
The APOE ε4 allele frequency was significantly higher in the AD (38.1%), LBD-AD (40.6%), pDLB (31.9%), and PDD (19.1%) groups compared with the control group (7.2%; overall χ42=185.25; P=5.56×10−39), and it was higher in the pDLB group than the PDD group (P=.01). In an age-adjusted and sex-adjusted dominant model, ε4 was strongly associated with AD (odds ratio, 9.9; 95% CI, 6.4–15.3), LBD-AD (odds ratio, 12.6; 95% CI, 8.1–19.8), pDLB (odds ratio, 6.1; 95% CI, 3.5–10.5), and PDD (odds ratio, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.7–5.6).
The APOE ε4 allele is a strong risk factor across the LBD spectrum and occurs at an increased frequency in pDLB relative to PDD. This suggests that ε4 increases the likelihood of presenting with dementia in the context of a pure synucleinopathy. The elevated ε4 frequency in the pDLB and PDD groups, in which the overall brain neuritic plaque burden was low, indicates that apoE might contribute to neurodegeneration through mechanisms unrelated to amyloid processing.
Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia and semantic dementia have been associated with striatal degeneration, but few studies have delineated striatal subregion volumes in vivo or related them to clinical phenotype. We traced caudate, putamen, and nucleus accumbens on MR images to quantify volumes of these structures in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia, semantic dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and healthy controls (n = 12 per group). We further related these striatal volumes to clinical deficits and neuropathological findings in a subset of patients. Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia and semantic dementia showed significant overall striatal atrophy compared with controls. Moreover, behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia showed panstriatal degeneration whereas semantic dementia featured a more focal pattern involving putamen and accumbens. Right-sided striatal atrophy, especially in the putamen, correlated with overall behavioral symptom severity and with specific behavioral domains. At autopsy, patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia and semantic dementia showed striking and severe tau or TAR DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa pathology, especially in ventral parts of the striatum. These results demonstrate that ventral striatum degeneration is a prominent shared feature in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia and semantic dementia and may contribute to social-emotional deficits common to both disorders.
Aggregation of TDP-43 proteins to form intracellular inclusions is the primary pathology in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with TDP-43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP). Histologically, in the cerebral cortex and limbic regions of affected ALS and FTLD-TDP patients, these pathologies occur as a variety of cytoplasmic, neuritic and intranuclear TDP-43 inclusions. In the spinal cord and lower brainstem of ALS patients, the lesions form cytoplasmic dashes or complex filamentous and spherical profiles in addition to skein-like inclusions (SLI). Ultrastructurally, the morphology of TDP-43 inclusions is heterogeneous but mainly composed of loose bundles of 10–20 nm diameter straight filaments associated with electron dense granular material. All of these TDP-43 inclusions are generally described as disordered amorphous aggregations unlike the amyloid fibrils that characterize protein accumulations in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
We here report that Thioflavin-S positive SLI are present in a subset of ALS cases, while TDP-43 inclusions outside the spinal cord lack the chemical properties of amyloid. Further, we examine the differential enrichment of fibrillar profiles in SLI of ALS cases by TDP-43 immuno-electron microscopy (immuno-EM). The demonstration that pathological TDP-43 can be amyloidogenic in situ suggests the following conclusions: 1) the conformational changes associated with TDP-43 aggregation are more complex than previously thought; 2) Thioflavin-S positive SLI may be composed primarily of filamentous ultrastructures.
TDP-43; amyloid; skein; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ALS; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FTLD-TDP
A single traumatic brain injury is associated with an increased risk of dementia and, in a proportion of patients surviving a year or more from injury, the development of hallmark Alzheimer’s disease-like pathologies. However, the pathological processes linking traumatic brain injury and neurodegenerative disease remain poorly understood. Growing evidence supports a role for neuroinflammation in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In contrast, little is known about the neuroinflammatory response to brain injury and, in particular, its temporal dynamics and any potential role in neurodegeneration. Cases of traumatic brain injury with survivals ranging from 10 h to 47 years post injury (n = 52) and age-matched, uninjured control subjects (n = 44) were selected from the Glasgow Traumatic Brain Injury archive. From these, sections of the corpus callosum and adjacent parasaggital cortex were examined for microglial density and morphology, and for indices of white matter pathology and integrity. With survival of ≥3 months from injury, cases with traumatic brain injury frequently displayed extensive, densely packed, reactive microglia (CR3/43- and/or CD68-immunoreactive), a pathology not seen in control subjects or acutely injured cases. Of particular note, these reactive microglia were present in 28% of cases with survival of >1 year and up to 18 years post-trauma. In cases displaying this inflammatory pathology, evidence of ongoing white matter degradation could also be observed. Moreover, there was a 25% reduction in the corpus callosum thickness with survival >1 year post-injury. These data present striking evidence of persistent inflammation and ongoing white matter degeneration for many years after just a single traumatic brain injury in humans. Future studies to determine whether inflammation occurs in response to or, conversely, promotes white matter degeneration will be important. These findings may provide parallels for studying neurodegenerative disease, with traumatic brain injury patients serving as a model for longitudinal investigations, in particular with a view to identifying potential therapeutic interventions.
inflammation; diffuse axonal injury; traumatic brain injury; axonal pathology; microglia
Vascular disease was once considered the principal cause of aging-related dementia. More recently, however, research emphasis has shifted to studies of progressive neurodegenerative disease processes such as those giving rise to neuritic plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, and Lewy bodies. While these studies have led to critical insights and potential therapeutic strategies, interest in the role of systemic and cerebrovascular disease mechanisms waned and has received relatively less attention and research support. Recent studies suggest that vascular disease mechanisms play an important role in the risk for aging-related cognitive decline and disorders. Vascular disease frequently coexists with cognitive decline in aging individuals, shares many risk factors with dementias considered to be of the “Alzheimer-type,” and is observed more frequently than expected in postmortem material from individuals manifesting “specific” disease stigmata such as abundant plaques and tangles. Considerable difficulties have emerged in attempting to classify dementias as being related to vascular vs. neurodegenerative causes, and several systems of criteria have been used. Despite multiple attempts, a lack of consensus remains regarding the optimal means of incorporating vascular disease into clinical diagnostic, neurocognitive, or neuropathologic classification schemes for dementias.
We propose here an integrative, rather than a strictly taxonomic approach to the study and elucidation of how vascular disease mechanisms contribute to the development of dementias. We argue that, instead of discriminating between, e.g., “Alzheimer’s disease,” “vascular dementia,” and other diseases, there is a greater need to focus clinical and research efforts on elucidating specific pathophysiologic mechanisms that contribute to dementia phenotypes and neuropathologic outcomes. We outline a multi-tiered strategy, beginning with clinical and public health interventions that can be implemented immediately; enhancements to ongoing longitudinal studies to increase their informative value; and new initiatives to capitalize on recent advances in systems biology and network medicine. This strategy will require funding from multiple public and private sources to support collaborative and interdisciplinary research efforts in order to take full advantage of these opportunities and realize their societal benefits.
A growing body of evidence demonstrates an association between vascular risk factors and Alzheimer’s disease. This study investigated the frequency and severity of atherosclerotic plaques in the circle of Willis in Alzheimer’s disease and multiple other neurodegenerative diseases. Semi-quantitative data from gross and microscopic neuropathological examinations in 1000 cases were analysed, including 410 with a primary diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, 230 with synucleinopathies, 157 with TDP-43 proteinopathies, 144 with tauopathies and 59 with normal ageing. More than 77% of subjects with Alzheimer’s disease had grossly apparent circle of Willis atherosclerosis, a percentage that was significantly higher than normal (47%), or other neurodegenerative diseases (43–67%). Age- and sex-adjusted atherosclerosis ratings were highly correlated with neuritic plaque, paired helical filaments tau neurofibrillary tangle and cerebral amyloid angiopathy ratings in the whole sample and within individual groups. We found no associations between atherosclerosis ratings and α-synuclein or TDP-43 lesion ratings. The association between age-adjusted circle of Willis atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease–type pathology was more robust for female subjects than male subjects. These results provide further confirmation and specificity that vascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease are interrelated and suggest that common aetiologic or reciprocally synergistic pathophysiological mechanisms promote both vascular pathology and plaque and tangle pathology.
atherosclerosis; neuritic plaques; neurofibrillary tangles; synuclein; TDP-43
This study evaluates the individual, as well as relative and joint value of indices obtained from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) patterns of brain atrophy (quantified by the SPARE-AD index), cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers, APOE genotype, and cognitive performance (ADAS-Cog) in progression from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer's disease (AD) within a variable follow-up period up to 6 years, using data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative-1 (ADNI-1). SPARE-AD was first established as a highly sensitive and specific MRI-marker of AD vs. cognitively normal (CN) subjects (AUC = 0.98). Baseline predictive values of all aforementioned indices were then compared using survival analysis on 381 MCI subjects. SPARE-AD and ADAS-Cog were found to have similar predictive value, and their combination was significantly better than their individual performance. APOE genotype did not significantly improve prediction, although the combination of SPARE-AD, ADAS-Cog and APOE ε4 provided the highest hazard ratio estimates of 17.8 (last vs. first quartile). In a subset of 192 MCI patients who also had CSF biomarkers, the addition of Aβ1–42, t-tau, and p-tau181p to the previous model did not improve predictive value significantly over SPARE-AD and ADAS-Cog combined. Importantly, in amyloid-negative patients with MCI, SPARE-AD had high predictive power of clinical progression. Our findings suggest that SPARE-AD and ADAS-Cog in combination offer the highest predictive power of conversion from MCI to AD, which is improved, albeit not significantly, by APOE genotype. The finding that SPARE-AD in amyloid-negative MCI patients was predictive of clinical progression is not expected under the amyloid hypothesis and merits further investigation.
•813 ADNI-1 subjects are analyzed using pattern recognition methods.•Combination of SPARE-AD and ADAS-Cog offer high predictive index on MCI progression.•Cox PH models showed predictors were highly associated with time to AD conversion.•SPARE-AD in amyloid-negative MCI patients predicts clinical progression.
Early Alzheimer's disease; Biomarkers of AD; Magnetic resonance imaging; Dementia; Mild cognitive impairment; Cerebrospinal fluid; Amyloid
A hallmark pathological feature of the Alzheimer’s
(AD) brain is the presence of senile plaques, which comprise amyloid
β (Aβ) peptides that are derived from the amyloid precursor
protein (APP). The plaque-containing AD brain is thought to be under
oxidative stress, as evidenced by increased lipid oxidation products
that include isoprostane-F2αIII (iPF2αIII). IPF2αIII
can bind to
and activate the thromboxane A2-prostanoid (TP) receptor, and TP receptor
activation causes increased Aβ production through enhancement
of APP mRNA stability. Moreover, TP receptor antagonists have been
shown to block iPF2αIII-induced increases of Aβ
secretion. Thus, the TP receptor may be a potential drug target for
AD therapy. However, here we show that existing TP receptor antagonists
have poor blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability, likely due to the
presence of a carboxylic acid moiety that is believed to be important
for receptor interaction, but which may hamper passive diffusion across
the BBB. We now report selected analogues of a known tetrahydronaphthalene
TP receptor antagonist, wherein the carboxylic acid moiety has been
replaced by heterocyclic bioisosteres. These heterocyclic analogues
retained relatively high affinity for the mouse and human TP receptors,
and, unlike the parent carboxylic acid compound, several examples
freely diffused across the BBB into the brain upon administration
to mice. These results reveal that brain-penetrant tetrahydronaphthalene
TP receptor antagonists can be developed by substituting the carboxylic
acid moiety with a suitable nonacidic bioisostere. Compounds of this
type hold promise as potential lead structures to develop drug candidates
for the treatment of AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid precursor protein; antagonist; blood-brain barrier; plaques; thromboxane receptor
The microtubule (MT)-associated protein tau, which is highly expressed in the axons of neurons, is an endogenous MT-stabilizing agent that plays an important role in the axonal transport. Loss of MT-stabilizing tau function, caused by misfolding, hyperphosphorylation and sequestration of tau into insoluble aggregates, leads to axonal transport deficits with neuropathological consequences. Several in vitro and preclinical in vivo studies have shown that MT-stabilizing drugs can be utilized to compensate for the loss of tau function and to maintain/restore an effective axonal transport. These findings indicate that MT-stabilizing compounds hold considerable promise for the treatment of Alzheimer disease and related tauopathies. The present article provides a synopsis of the key findings demonstrating the therapeutic potential of MT-stabilizing drugs in the context of neurodegenerative tauopathies, as well as an overview of the different classes of MT-stabilizing compounds.
Many neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by the accumulation of insoluble protein aggregates, including neurofibrillary tangles comprised of tau in Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy bodies composed of α-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease. Moreover, different pathological proteins frequently codeposit in disease brains. To test whether aggregated α-synuclein can directly cross-seed tau fibrillization, we administered preformed α-synuclein fibrils assembled from recombinant protein to primary neurons and transgenic mice. Remarkably, we discovered two distinct strains of synthetic α-synuclein fibrils that demonstrated striking differences in the efficiency of cross-seeding tau aggregation, both in neuron cultures and in vivo. Proteinase K digestion revealed conformational differences between the two synthetic α-synuclein strains and also between sarkosyl-insoluble α-synuclein extracted from two subgroups of Parkinson’s disease brains. We speculate that distinct strains of pathological α-synuclein likely exist in neurodegenerative disease brains and may underlie the tremendous heterogeneity of synucleinopathies.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is most commonly associated with TAR-DNA binding protein (TDP-43) or tau pathology at autopsy, but there are no in vivo biomarkers reliably discriminating between sporadic cases. As disease-modifying treatments emerge, it is critical to accurately identify underlying pathology in living patients so that they can be entered into appropriate etiology-directed clinical trials. Patients with tau inclusions (FTLD-TAU) appear to have relatively greater white matter (WM) disease at autopsy than those patients with TDP-43 (FTLD-TDP). In this paper, we investigate the ability of white matter (WM) imaging to help discriminate between FTLD-TAU and FTLD-TDP during life using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Patients with autopsy-confirmed disease or a genetic mutation consistent with FTLD-TDP or FTLD-TAU underwent multimodal T1 volumetric MRI and diffusion weighted imaging scans. We quantified cortical thickness in GM and fractional anisotropy (FA) in WM. We performed Eigenanatomy, a statistically robust dimensionality reduction algorithm, and used leave-one-out cross-validation to predict underlying pathology. Neuropathological assessment of GM and WM disease burden was performed in the autopsy-cases to confirm our findings of an ante-mortem GM and WM dissociation in the neuroimaging cohort.
ROC curve analyses evaluated classification accuracy in individual patients and revealed 96% sensitivity and 100% specificity for WM analyses. FTLD-TAU had significantly more WM degeneration and inclusion severity at autopsy relative to FTLD-TDP.
These neuroimaging and neuropathological investigations provide converging evidence for greater WM burden associated with FTLD-TAU, and emphasize the role of WM neuroimaging for in vivo discrimination between FTLD-TAU and FTLD-TDP.
Algorithms designed to identify canonical yeast prions predict that ~250 human proteins, including several RNA-binding proteins associated with neurodegenerative disease, harbor a distinctive prion-like domain (PrLD) enriched in uncharged polar amino acids and glycine. PrLDs in RNA-binding proteins are essential for the assembly of ribonucleoprotein granules. However, the interplay between human PrLD function and disease is not understood. Here, we define pathogenic mutations in PrLDs of hnRNPA2/B1 and hnRNPA1 in families with inherited degeneration affecting muscle, brain, motor neuron and bone, and a case of familial ALS. Wild-type hnRNPA2 and hnRNPA1 display an intrinsic tendency to assemble into self-seeding fibrils, which is exacerbated by the disease mutations. Indeed, the pathogenic mutations strengthen a ‘steric zipper’ motif in the PrLD, which accelerates formation of self-seeding fibrils that cross-seed polymerization of wild-type hnRNP. Importantly, the disease mutations promote excess incorporation of hnRNPA2 and hnRNPA1 into stress granules and drive the formation of cytoplasmic inclusions in animal models that recapitulate the human pathology. Thus, dysregulated polymerization caused by a potent mutant ‘steric zipper’ motif in a PrLD can initiate degenerative disease. Related proteins with PrLDs must be considered candidates for initiating and perhaps propagating proteinopathies of muscle, brain, motor neuron and bone.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is characterized phenotypically by progressive weakness and neuropathologically by loss of motor neurons. Phenotypically, there is marked heterogeneity. Typical ALS has mixed upper motor neuron (UMN) and lower motor neuron (LMN) involvement. Primary lateral sclerosis has predominant UMN involvement. Progressive muscular atrophy has predominant LMN involvement. Bulbar and limb ALS have predominant regional involvement. Frontotemporal dementia has significant cognitive and behavioral involvement. These phenotypes can be so distinctive that they would seem to have differing biology. However, they cannot be distinguished, at least neuropathologically or genetically. In sporadic ALS (SALS), they are mostly characterized by ubiquitinated cytoplasmic inclusions of TDP-43. In familial ALS (FALS), where phenotypes are indistinguishable from SALS and similarly heterogeneous, each mutated gene has its own genetic and molecular signature. Overall, since the same phenotypes can have multiple causes including different gene mutations, there must be multiple molecular mechanisms causing ALS – and ALS is a syndrome. Since, however, multiple phenotypes can be caused by one single gene mutation, a single molecular mechanism can cause heterogeneity. What the mechanisms are remain unknown, but active propagation of the pathology neuroanatomically seems to be a principal component. Leading candidate mechanisms include RNA processing, cell-cell interactions between neurons and non-neuronal neighbors, focal seeding from a misfolded protein that has prion-like propagation, and fatal errors introduced during neurodevelopment of the motor system. If fundamental mechanisms could be identified and understood, ALS therapy could rationally target progression and stop the disease – a goal that seems increasingly achievable.
ALS; PLS; PMA; motor neuron disease; FTD
Multiple neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by the abnormal accumulation of FUS protein including various subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with FUS inclusions (FTLD-FUS). These subtypes include atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (aFTLD-U), basophilic inclusion body disease (BIBD) and neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID). Despite considerable overlap, certain pathologic features including differences in inclusion morphology, the subcellular localization of inclusions, and the relative paucity of subcortical FUS pathology in aFTLD-U indicate that these three entities represent related but distinct diseases. In this study, we report the clinical and pathologic features of three cases of aFTLD-U and two cases of late-onset BIBD with an emphasis on the anatomic distribution of FUS inclusions.
The aFTLD-U cases demonstrated FUS inclusions in cerebral cortex, subcortical grey matter and brainstem with a predilection for anterior forebrain and rostral brainstem. In contrast, the distribution of FUS pathology in late-onset BIBD cases demonstrated a predilection for pyramidal and extrapyramidal motor regions with relative sparing of cerebral cortex and limbic regions.
The topography of FUS pathology in these cases demonstrate the diversity of sporadic FUS inclusion body diseases and raises the possibility that late-onset motor neuron disease with BIBD neuropathology may exhibit unique clinical and pathologic features.
Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Motor neuron disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Cerebrospinal fluid and positron emission tomography biomarkers accurately predict an underlying Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology; however, they represent either invasive or expensive diagnostic tools. Therefore, a blood-based biomarker like plasma amyloid beta (Aβ) that could correlate with the underlying AD pathology and serve as a prognostic biomarker or an AD screening strategy is urgently needed as a cost-effective and non-invasive diagnostic tool. In this paper we review the demographic, biologic, genetic and technical aspects that affect plasma Aβ levels. Findings of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of plasma Aβ, including autosomal dominant AD cases, sporadic AD cases, Down syndrome cases and population studies, are also discussed. Finally, we review the association between cerebrovascular disease and Aβ plasma levels and the responses observed in clinical trials. Based on our review of the current literature on plasma Aβ, we conclude that further clinical research and assay development are needed before measures of plasma Aβ can be interpreted so they can be applied as trait, risk or state biomarkers for AD.
It is now established that pathological transactive response DNA-binding protein with a Mr of 43 kD (TDP-43) on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis is the major disease protein in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (now known as FTLD-TDP). In fact, the discovery of pathological TDP-43 solidified the idea that these disorders are multi-system diseases and this led to the concept of a TDP-43 proteinopathy as a spectrum of disorders comprised of different clinical and pathological entities extending from ALS to ALS with cognitive impairment/dementia and FTLD-TDP without or with motor neuron disease (FTLD-MND). These align along a broad disease continuum sharing similar pathogenetic mechanisms linked to pathological TDP-43. We here review salient findings in the development of a concept of TDP-43 proteinopathy as a novel group of neurodegenerative diseases similar in concept to α-synucleinopathies and tauopathies.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; multi-system disease; proteinopathy; transactive response DNA-binding protein with a Mr of 43 kD (TDP-43)
The interassay variability and inconsistency of plasma β-amyloid (Aβ) measurements among centers are major factors precluding the interpretation of results and a substantial obstacle in the meta-analysis across studies of this biomarker. The goal of this investigation was to address these problems by improving the performance of the bioanalytical method.
We used the Luminex immunoassay platform with a multiplex microsphere-based reagent kit from Innogenetics. A robotic pipetting system was used to perform crucial steps of the procedure. The performance of this method was evaluated using two kit control samples and two quality control plasma samples from volunteer donors, and by retesting previously assayed patient samples in each run. This setup was applied to process 2454 patient plasma samples from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative study biofluid repository. We have additionally evaluated the correlations between our results and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarker data using mixed-effects modeling.
The average precision values of the kit controls were 8.3% for Aβ1-40 and 4.0% for Aβ1-42, whereas the values for the plasma quality controls were 6.4% for Aβ1-40 and 4.8% for Aβ1-42. From the test–retest evaluation, the average precision was 7.2% for Aβ1-40 and 4.5% for Aβ1-42. The range of final plasma results for Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative patients was 13 to 372 pg/mL (median: 164 pg/mL) for Aβ1-40 and 3.5 to 103 pg/mL (median: 39.3 pg/mL) for Aβ1-42. We found that sample collection parameters (blood volume and time to freeze) have a small, but significant, influence on the result. No significant difference was found between plasma Aβ levels for patients with Alzheimer's disease and healthy control subjects. We have determined multiple significant correlations of plasma Aβ1-42 levels with CSF biomarkers. The relatively strongest, although modest, correlation was found between plasma Aβ1-42 levels and CSF p-tau181/Aβ1-42 ratio in patients with mild cognitive impairment. Plasma Aβ1-40 correlations with CSF biomarkers were weaker and diminished completely when we used longitudinal data. No significant correlations were found for the plasma Aβ1-42/Aβ1-40 ratio.
The precision of our robotized method represents a substantial improvement over results reported in the literature. Multiple significant correlations between plasma and CSF biomarkers were found. Although these correlations are not strong enough to support the use of plasma Aβ measurement as a diagnostic screening test, plasma Aβ1-42 levels are well suited for use as a pharmacodynamic marker.
β-amyloid; Longitudinal; Plasma; xMAP immunoassay; ADNI study subjects; Robotic pipetting
Weight changes are common in aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and post-mortem findings suggested a relation between lower body mass index (BMI) and increased AD brain pathology. In the current multicenter study, we tested whether lower BMI is associated with higher core AD brain pathology as assessed by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) based biological markers of AD in 751 living subjects: 308 patients with AD, 296 subjects with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 147 elderly healthy controls (HC). Based upon a priori cutoff values on CSF concentration of total tau and beta-amyloid (Aβ1-42), subjects were binarized into a group with abnormal CSF biomarker signature (CSF+) and those without (CSF−). Results showed that BMI was significantly lower in the CSF+ when compared to the CSF− group (F = 27.7, df = 746, p < 0.001). There was no interaction between CSF signature and diagnosis or ApoE genotype. In conclusion, lower BMI is indicative of AD pathology as assessed with CSF-based biomarkers in demented and non-demented elderly subjects.
Alzheimer’s disease; body mass index; cerebrospinal fluid; tau protein; Aβ1-42
Neurons within the brains of those with AD (Alzheimer’s disease) and related neurodegenerative disorders, collectively termed ‘tauopathies’, contain fibrillar inclusions composed of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. Tau is normally enriched in axons, where it binds and stabilizes MTs (microtubules). Tau hyperphosphorylation and aggregation probably result in reduced MT binding that could affect axonal transport and neuronal function. A possible therapeutic strategy to overcome a loss of tau function in tauopathies is administration of MT-stabilizing agents, such as those used in the treatment of cancer. However, these drugs elicit severe side effects, and most existing MT-stabilizing compounds have poor BBB (blood–brain barrier) permeability, which renders them unsuitable for tauopathy treatment. We identified EpoD (epothilone D) as a brain-penetrant MT-stabilizing agent with preferred pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties. EpoD was evaluated for its ability to compensate for tau loss-of-function in an established Tg (transgenic) mouse model, using both preventative and interventional dosing paradigms. EpoD at doses much lower than previously used in human cancer patients caused improved axonal MT density and decreased axonal dystrophy in the tau Tg mice, leading to an alleviation of cognitive deficits. Moreover, EpoD reduced the extent of tau pathology in aged tau Tg mice. Importantly, no adverse side effects were observed in the EpoD-treated mice. These results suggest that EpoD might be a viable drug candidate for the treatment of AD and related tauopathies.
Alzheimer’s disease; axon; microtubule; tauopathy; therapeutic agent
To utilize values of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau and ß-amyloid obtained from two different analytical immunoassays to differentiate Alzheimer’s disease (AD) from frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
CSF values of total tau (t-tau) and ß-amyloid (Aß1-42) obtained using the INNOTEST® ELISA were transformed using a linear regression model to equivalent values obtained using the INNO-BIA AlzBio3™ (xMAP Luminex) assay. Cutoff values obtained from the xMAP assay were developed in a series of autopsy-confirmed cases and cross-validated in another series of autopsy-confirmed samples using transformed ELISA values to assess sensitivity and specificity for differentiating AD from FTLD.
Tertiary memory disorders clinics and neuropathological and biomarker core centers.
75 samples from patients with CSF data obtained from both assays were used for transformation of ELISA values. 40 autopsy-confirmed cases (30 AD, 10 FTLD) were used to establish diagnostic cutoff values, and then cross-validated in a second sample set of 21 autopsy-confirmed cases (11 AD, 10 FTLD) with transformed ELISA values.
Main outcome measure
Diagnostic accuracy using transformed biomarker values.
Data obtained from both assays were highly correlated. The t-tau:Aß1-42 ratio had the highest correlation between measures (r=0.928, p<0.001) and high reliability of transformation (ICC=0.89). A cutoff of 0.34 for the t-tau:Aß1-42 ratio had 90% and 100% sensitivity and 96.7% and 91% specificity to differentiate FTLD cases in the validation and cross-validation samples, respectively.
Values from two analytical platforms can be transformed into equivalent units, which can distinguish AD from FTLD more accurately than the clinical diagnosis.
Growing evidence of cell-to-cell transmission of neurodegenerative disease (ND)–associated proteins (NDAPs) (ie, tau, Aβ, and α-synuclein) suggests possible similarities in the infectious prion protein (PrPsc) in spongiform encephalopathies. There are limited data on the potential human-to-human transmission of NDAPs associated with Alzheimer disease (AD) and other non-PrPsc ND.
To examine evidence for human-to-human transmission of AD, Parkinson disease (PD), and related NDAPs in cadaveric human growth hormone (c-hGH) recipients.
We conducted a detailed immunohistochemical analysis of pathological NDAPs other than PrPsc in human pituitary glands. We also searched for ND in recipients of pituitary-derived c-hGH by reviewing the National Hormone and Pituitary Program (NHPP) cohort database and medical literature.
University-based academic center and agencies of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Thirty-four routine autopsy subjects (10 non-ND controls and 24 patients with ND) and a US cohort of c-hGH recipients in the NHPP.
Main Outcome Measures
Detectable NDAPs in human pituitary sections and death certificate reports of non-PrPsc ND in the NHPP database.
We found mild amounts of pathological tau, Aβ, and α-synuclein deposits in the adeno/neurohypophysis of patients with ND and control patients. No cases of AD or PD were identified, and 3 deaths attributed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) were found among US NHPP c-hGH recipients, including 2 of the 796 decedents in the originally confirmed NHPP c-hGH cohort database.
Conclusions and Relevance
Despite the likely frequent exposure of c-hGH recipients to NDAPs, and their markedly elevated risk of PrPsc-related disease, this population of NHPP c-hGH recipients does not appear to be at increased risk of AD or PD. We discovered 3 ALS cases of unclear significance among US c-hGH recipients despite the absence of pathological deposits of ALS-associated proteins (TDP-43, FUS, and ubiquilin) in human pituitary glands. In this unique in vivo model of human-to-human transmission, we found no evidence to support concerns that NDAPs underlying AD and PD transmit disease in humans despite evidence of their cell-to-cell transmission in model systems of these disorders. Further monitoring is required to confirm these conclusions.
There is epidemiological evidence that cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) also are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, but there is limited information on this from neuro-pathological studies, and even less from in vivo studies. Therefore, we examined the relationship between CVRF and amyloid-β (Aβ) brain burden measured by Pittsburgh Compound B-positron emission tomography (PiB-PET) studies in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.
Ninety-nine subjects from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative cohort who had a PiB-PET study measure, apolipoprotein E genotyping data, and information available on CVRF (body mass index [BMI], systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure [DBP1 and cholesterol and fasting glucose test results) were included. Eighty-one subjects also had plasma cortisol C-reactive protein, and superoxide dismutase 1 measurements. Stepwise regression models were used to assess the relation between the CVRF and the composite PiB-PET score.
The first model included the following as baseline variables: age, clinical diagnosis, number of apolipoprotein ε4 alleles, BMI (P = .023), and DBP (P = .012). BMI showed an inverse relation with PiB-PET score, and DBP had a positive relation with PiB-PET score. In the second adjusted model, cortisol plasma levels were also associated with PiB-PET score (P = .004). Systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, or impaired fasting glucose were not found to be associated with PiB-PET values.
In this cross-sectional study, we found an association between Aβ brain burden measured in vivo and DBP and cortisol, indicating a possible link between these CVRF and Aβ burden measured by PiB-PET. These findings highlight the utility of biomarkers to explore potential pathways linking diverse Alzheimer’s disease risk factors.
Alzheimer disease; Vascular risk factors; PiB; Amyloid-β; Cortisol; Blood pressure; Body mass index