Pancreatitis is a complex, progressively destructive inflammatory disorder. Alcohol was long thought to be the primary causative agent, but genetic contributions have been of interest since the discovery that rare PRSS1, CFTR, and SPINK1 variants were associated with pancreatitis risk. We now report two significant genome-wide associations identified and replicated at PRSS1-PRSS2 (1×10-12) and x-linked CLDN2 (p < 1×10-21) through a two-stage genome-wide study (Stage 1, 676 cases and 4507 controls; Stage 2, 910 cases and 4170 controls). The PRSS1 variant affects susceptibility by altering expression of the primary trypsinogen gene. The CLDN2 risk allele is associated with atypical localization of claudin-2 in pancreatic acinar cells. The homozygous (or hemizygous male) CLDN2 genotype confers the greatest risk, and its alleles interact with alcohol consumption to amplify risk. These results could partially explain the high frequency of alcohol-related pancreatitis in men – male hemizygous frequency is 0.26, female homozygote is 0.07.
Though cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) has important clinical implications, our understanding of it and ability to diagnose it is limited.
We sought to determine pathological correlates and clinical factors identifiable during life that predict the presence of severe CAA in persons with pathologically-confirmed Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
We compared demographic and clinical variables at the earliest visit during life at which subjects were found to have cognitive impairment, and pathological variables between persons ultimately found to have no or severe CAA at autopsy using logistic regression. Analyses were repeated separately for carriers and non-carriers of the APOE ε4 allele.
Data were obtained from the Uniform Data Set that comprises longitudinal clinical assessments performed in the Alzheimer’s Disease Centers funded by the National Institute on Aging.
193 persons with severe CAA and 232 persons with no CAA. All subjects had cognitive impairment and met NIA-Reagan neuropathological criteria for AD.
Main Outcome Measures
Prevalence of demographic characteristics and the APOE ε4 allele and odds ratios of clinical variables for the prediction of severe CAA.
Persons with severe CAA were more likely to carry an APOE ε4 allele (64.9% vs. 42.8%), to be Hispanic (6.8% vs. 1.3%, p = 0.003), to have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA, 12.5% vs. 6.1%, OR = 2.1, 95% CI = 1 – 4.4), and had lower degrees of diffuse amyloid plaque pathology (mean CERAD scores 1.2 vs. 1.4, p = 0.01) than persons with no CAA. Intracerebral hemorrhage (9.3% vs. 3.5%, p = 0.01), cortical microinfarcts (20.7% vs. 12.9%, p = 0.03), and subcortical leukoencephalopathy (20.5% vs. 12.1%, p = 0.02) were more common in persons with CAA. A higher prevalence of stroke (11.1% vs. 3.9%, OR = 3.8, 95% CI 1.0 – 14.6) and hypercholesterolemia (50% vs. 33.3%, OR = 2.3, CI 1.1 – 4.7) were found in non-carriers of the ε4 allele with severe CAA.
Conclusions and Relevance
Being Hispanic and having had a TIA-like episode were predictors of CAA in persons with AD. Less diffuse parenchymal amyloid pathology in persons with severe CAA suggests a difference in Aβ trafficking.
Mutations in PSEN1 are the most common cause of autosomal dominant familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD). We describe an African-American woman with a family history consistent with FAD who began to have cognitive decline at age 50. Her clinical presentation, MRI, FDG- and PIB-PET scan findings were consistent with AD and she was found to have a novel I238M substitution in PSEN1. As this mutation caused increased production of Aβ42 in an in-vitro assay, was not present in two population databases, and is conserved across species, it is likely to be pathogenic for FAD.
autosomal dominant; Alzheimer’s disease; PSEN1; Presenilin-1; familial; PIB-PET; African; gamma-secretase; in-vitro; Aβ42
Persons at-risk for autosomal dominant neurodegenerative diseases provide the opportunity to efficiently test preventive interventions. Only a minority of such persons, however, choose to undergo revealing genetic testing, presenting a challenge to enrollment. Thirty-four preclinical Latinos (n = 26) and non-Latinos at-risk for familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD) unaware of their genetic status were administered a questionnaire exploring their interest in undergoing revealing genetic testing at baseline and in the context of eligibility for four prevention trials of increasing invasiveness. Forty-four percent of subjects expressed a baseline interest in undergoing revealing testing which increased to 85% in order to be eligible for a study of an oral drug "felt to be very safe.” If there were a 50% chance of receiving placebo, this number dropped to 62% (p = 0.02). For those not interested in a study involving a 50% chance of receiving placebo, a range of 5% to 40% chance of receiving placebo was given as acceptable. For more invasive studies, living in the U.S. (as opposed to Mexico) positively influenced the likelihood of participating. Our data suggests that clinical trial designs in which persons must confront their genetic status prior to enrollment are feasible. Study designs to minimize the likelihood of being placed on placebo or provide the eventual administration of the drug through open-label extensions should be considered.
FAD; pre-symptomatic; genetic; testing; trials; prevention
Because of its genetic underpinnings and consistent age of onset within families, autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease (ADAD) provides a unique opportunity to conduct clinical trials of investigational agents as preventative or symptom-delaying treatments. The design of such trials may be complicated by low rates of genetic testing and disclosure among persons at risk of inheriting disease-causing mutations.
To better understand the attitudes toward genetic testing and clinical trials of persons at risk for ADAD, we surveyed participants in the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network (DIAN), a multisite longitudinal study of clinical and biomarker outcomes in ADAD that does not require learning genetic status to participate.
Eighty participants completed a brief anonymous survey by mail or on-line; 40 % reported knowing if they carried a gene mutation, 15 % did not know but expressed a desire to learn their genetic status, and 45 % did not know and did not desire to know their genetic status. Among participants who knew or wished to know their genetic status, 86 % were interested in participating in a clinical trial. Seventy-two percent of participants who did not wish to learn their genetic status reported that they would change their mind, if learning that they carried a mutation gave them the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial. Nearly all participants responded that they would be interested if an open-label extension were offered.
These results suggest that the availability of clinical trials to prevent ADAD can affect persons’ desire to undergo genetic testing and that consideration can be given to performing studies in which such testing is required.
Although considerable effort has been expended developing drug candidates for Alzheimer disease, none have yet succeeded owing to the lack of efficacy or to safety concerns. One potential shortcoming of current approaches to Alzheimer disease drug discovery and development is that they rely primarily on transformed cell lines and animal models that substantially overexpress wild-type or mutant proteins. It is possible that drug development failures thus far are caused in part by the limits of these approaches, which do not accurately reveal how drug candidates will behave in naive human neuronal cells.
To analyze purified neurons derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells from patients carrying 3 different presenilin 1 (PS1) mutations and nondemented control individuals in the absence of any overexpression. We tested the efficacy of γ-secretase inhibitor and γ-secretase modulator (GSM) in neurons derived from both normal control and 3 PS1 mutations (A246E, H163R, and M146L).
Design, Setting, and Participants
Adult human skin biopsies were obtained from volunteers at the Alzheimer Disease Research Center, University of California, San Diego. Cell cultures were treated with γ-secretase inhibitor or GSM. Comparisons of total β-amyloid (Aβ) and Aβ peptides 38, 40, and 42 in the media were made between vehicle- vs drug-treated cultures.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Soluble Aβ levels in the media were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
As predicted, mutant PS1 neurons exhibited an elevated Aβ42:Aβ40 ratio (P <.05) at the basal state as compared with the nondemented control neurons. Treatment with a potent non–nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory druglike GSM revealed a new biomarker signature that differs from all previous cell types and animals tested. This new signature was the same in both the mutant and control neurons and consisted of a reduction in Aβ42, Aβ40, and Aβ38 and in the Aβ42:Aβ40 ratio, with no change in the total Aβ levels.
Conclusions and Relevance
This biomarker discrepancy is likely due to overexpression of amyloid precursor protein in the transformed cellular models. Our results suggest that biomarker signatures obtained with such models are misleading and that human neurons derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells provide a unique signature that will more accurately reflect drug response in human patients and in cerebrospinal fluid biomarker changes observed during GSM treatment.
Performance on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) has been demonstrated to be dependent on the educational level. The purpose of this study was to identify how to best adjust MoCA scores and to identify MoCA items most sensitive to cognitive decline in incipient Alzheimer's disease (AD) in a Spanish-speaking population with varied levels of education.
We analyzed data from 50 Spanish-speaking participants. We examined the pattern of diagnosis-adjusted MoCA residuals in relation to education and compared four alternative score adjustments using bootstrap sampling. Sensitivity and specificity analyses were performed for the raw and each adjusted score. The interval reliability of the MoCA as well as item discrimination and item validity were examined.
We found that with progressive compensation added for those with lower education, unexplained residuals decreased and education-residual association moved to zero, suggesting that more compensation was necessary to better adjust MoCA scores in those with a lower educational level. Cube copying, sentence repetition, delayed recall, and orientation were most sensitive to cognitive impairment due to AD.
A compensation of 3-4 points was needed for <6 years of education. Overall, the Spanish version of the MoCA maintained adequate psychometric properties in this population.
Montreal Cognitive Assessment; Spanish-speaking population; Education; Dementia; Mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer's disease; Latino population; Hispanic population; Screening
Clinicopathologic evidence suggests the pathology of Alzheimer disease (AD) begins many years prior to cognitive symptoms. Biomarkers are required to identify affected individuals during this asymptomatic (“pre-clinical”) stage to permit intervention with potential disease-modifying therapies designed to preserve normal brain function. Studies of families with autosomal-dominant AD (ADAD) mutations provide a unique and powerful means to investigate AD biomarker changes during the asymptomatic period. In this biomarker study comparing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), plasma and in vivo amyloid imaging, cross-sectional data obtained at baseline in individuals from ADAD families enrolled in the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) demonstrate reduced concentrations of CSF amyloid-β1-42 (Aβ1–42) associated with the presence of β-amyloid plaques, and elevated concentrations of CSF tau, ptau181 and VILIP-1, markers of neurofibrillary tangles and/or neuronal injury/death, in asymptomatic mutation carriers 10-20 years prior to their estimated age at symptom onset (EAO), and prior to detection of cognitive deficits. When compared longitudinally, however, the concentrations of CSF biomarkers of neuronal injury/death within-individuals decrease after their EAO, suggesting a slowing of acute neurodegenerative processes with symptomatic disease progression. These results emphasize the importance of longitudinal, within-person assessment when modeling biomarker trajectories across the course of the disease. If corroborated, this pattern may influence the definition of a positive neurodegenerative biomarker outcome in clinical trials.
Purpose of Review: This article discusses the current status of knowledge regarding the genetic basis of Alzheimer disease (AD) with a focus on clinically relevant aspects.
Recent Findings: The genetic architecture of AD is complex, as it includes multiple susceptibility genes and likely nongenetic factors. Rare but highly penetrant autosomal dominant mutations explain a small minority of the cases but have allowed tremendous advances in understanding disease pathogenesis. The identification of a strong genetic risk factor, APOE, reshaped the field and introduced the notion of genetic risk for AD. More recently, large-scale genome-wide association studies are adding to the picture a number of common variants with very small effect sizes. Large-scale resequencing studies are expected to identify additional risk factors, including rare susceptibility variants and structural variation.
Summary: Genetic assessment is currently of limited utility in clinical practice because of the low frequency (Mendelian mutations) or small effect size (common risk factors) of the currently known susceptibility genes. However, genetic studies are identifying with confidence a number of novel risk genes, and this will further our understanding of disease biology and possibly the identification of therapeutic targets.
Autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease (ADAD) is caused by rare genetic
mutations in three specific genes, in contrast to late-onset Alzheimer
Disease (LOAD), which has a more polygenetic risk profile.
Design, Setting, and Participants
We analyzed functional connectivity in multiple brain resting state
networks (RSNs) in a cross-sectional cohort of ADAD (N=79) and LOAD (N=444)
human participants using resting state functional connectivity MRI
(rs-fcMRI) at multiple international academic sites.
Main Outcomes and Measures
For both types of AD, we quantified and compared functional
connectivity changes in RSNs as a function of dementia severity as measured
by clinical dementia rating (CDR). In ADAD, we qualitatively investigated
functional connectivity changes with respect to estimated years from onset
of symptoms within five RSNs.
Functional connectivity decreases with increasing CDR were similar
for both LOAD and ADAD in multiple RSNs. Ordinal logistic regression models
constructed in each type of AD accurately predicted CDR stage in the other,
further demonstrating similarity of functional connectivity loss in each
disease type. Among ADAD participants, functional connectivity in multiple
RSNs appeared qualitatively lower in asymptomatic mutation carriers near
their anticipated age of symptom onset compared to asymptomatic mutation
Conclusions and Relevance
rs-fcMRI changes with progressing AD severity are similar between
ADAD and LOAD. Rs-fcMRI may be a useful endpoint for LOAD and ADAD therapy
trials. ADAD disease process may be an effective model for LOAD disease
Resting-state functional connectivity; autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease; late-onset Alzheimer's disease; default mode network; apolipoprotein E (APOE)
The NTRK3 gene (also known as TRKC) encodes a high affinity receptor for the neurotrophin 3′-nucleotidase (NT3), which is implicated in oligodendrocyte and myelin development. We previously found that white matter integrity in young adults related to genetic variants in genes encoding neurotrophins and their receptors. This underscores the importance of neurotrophins for white matter development. NTRK3 variants are putative risk factors for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder hoarding, suggesting that some NTRK3 variants may affect the brain.
To test this, we scanned 392 healthy adult twins and their siblings (mean age, 23.6 ± 2.2 years; range: 20-29 years) with 105-gradient 4-Tesla diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). We identified 18 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the NTRK3 gene that have been associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. We used a multi-SNP model, adjusting for family relatedness, age, and sex, to relate these variants to voxelwise fractional anisotropy (FA) – a DTI measure of white matter integrity.
FA was optimally predicted (based on the highest false discovery rate critical p), by five SNPs (rs1017412, rs2114252, rs16941261, rs3784406, and rs7176429; overall FDR critical p = 0.028). Gene effects were widespread and included the corpus callosum genu and inferior longitudinal fasciculus - regions implicated in several neuropsychiatric disorders and previously associated with other neurotrophin-related genetic variants in an overlapping sample of subjects. NTRK3 genetic variants, and neurotrophins more generally, may influence white matter integrity in brain regions implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders.
Fractional anisotropy; diffusion tensor imaging; single nucleotide polymorphism; schizophrenia; obsessive compulsive disorder; bipolar disorder
To study the effect of familial Alzheimer disease (FAD) mutations and APOE genotype on plasma signaling protein levels.
Cross-sectional comparison of plasma levels of 77 proteins measured using multiplex immune assays.
A tertiary referral dementia research center.
Thirty-three persons from families harboring PSEN1 or APP mutations, aged 19 to 59 years.
Main Outcome Measures
Protein levels were compared between FAD mutation carriers (MCs) and non-carriers (NCs) and among APOE genotype groups, using multiple linear regression models.
Twenty-one participants were FAD MCs and 12 were NCs. Six had the APOE ε2/3, 6 had the ε3/4, and 21 had the ε3/3 genotype. Levels of 17 proteins differed among APOE genotype groups, and there were significant interactions between age and APOE genotype for 12 proteins. Plasma levels of apolipoprotein E and superoxide dismutase 1 were highest in the ε2 carriers, lowest in ε4 carriers, and intermediate in the ε3 carriers. Levels of multiple interleukins showed the opposite pattern and, among the ε4 carriers, demonstrated significant negative correlations with age. Although there were no significant differences between FAD MCs and NCs, there were interactions between mutation status and APOE genotype for 13 proteins.
We found different patterns of inflammatory markers in young and middle-aged persons among APOE genotype groups. The APOE ε4 carriers had the lowest levels of apolipoprotein E. Young ε4 carriers have increased inflammatory markers that diminish with age. We demonstrated altered inflammatory responses in young and middle adulthood in ε4 carriers that may relate to AD risk later in life.
Since the original publication describing the illness in 1907, the genetic understanding of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has advanced such that it is now clear that it is a genetically heterogeneous condition, the subtypes of which may not uniformly respond to a given intervention. It is therefore critical to characterize the clinical and preclinical stages of AD subtypes, including the rare autosomal dominant forms caused by known mutations in the PSEN1, APP, and PSEN2 genes that are being studied in the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network study and its associated secondary prevention trial. Similar efforts are occurring in an extended Colombian family with a PSEN1 mutation, in APOE ε4 homozygotes, and in Down syndrome. Despite commonalities in the mechanisms producing the AD phenotype, there are also differences that reflect specific genetic origins. Treatment modalities should be chosen and trials designed with these differences in mind. Ideally, the varying pathological cascades involved in the different subtypes of AD should be defined so that both areas of overlap and of distinct differences can be taken into account. At the very least, clinical trials should determine the influence of known genetic factors in post hoc analyses.
Alzheimer’s disease; Genetic; Heterogeneity; Presenilin; Amyloid precursor protein; Apolipoprotein E
To identify cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) protein changes in persons who will develop familial Alzheimer disease (FAD) due to PSEN1 and APP mutations, using unbiased proteomics.
We compared proteomic profiles of CSF from individuals with FAD who were mutation carriers (MCs) and related noncarriers (NCs). Abundant proteins were depleted and samples were analyzed using liquid chromatography– electrospray ionization–mass spectrometry on a high-resolution time-of-flight instrument. Tryptic peptides were identified by tandem mass spectrometry. Proteins differing in concentration between the MCs and NCs were identified.
A tertiary dementia referral center and a proteomic biomarker discovery laboratory.
Fourteen FAD MCs (mean age, 34.2 years; 10 are asymptomatic, 12 have presenilin-1 [PSEN1] gene mutations, and 2 have amyloid precursor protein [APP] gene mutations) and 5 related NCs (mean age, 37.6 years).
Fifty-six proteins were identified, represented by multiple tryptic peptides showing significant differences between MCs and NCs (46 upregulated and 10 downregulated); 40 of these proteins differed when the analysis was restricted to asymptomatic individuals. Fourteen proteins have been reported in prior proteomic studies in late-onset AD, including amyloid precursor protein, transferrin, α1β-glycoprotein, complement components, afamin precursor, spondin 1, plasminogen, hemopexin, and neuronal pentraxin receptor. Many other proteins were unique to our study, including calsyntenin 3, AMPA (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) 4 glutamate receptor, CD99 antigen, di-N-acetyl-chitobiase, and secreted phosphoprotein 1.
We found much overlap in CSF protein changes between individuals with presymptomatic and symptomatic FAD and those with late-onset AD. Our results are consistent with inflammation and synaptic loss early in FAD and suggest new presymptomatic biomarkers of potential usefulness in drug development.
To investigate white matter changes in familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD) patients with spastic paraparesis (SP) using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Though FAD due to PSEN1 mutations typically recapitulates late onset AD, it can have unusual clinical features including SP. SP is seen with specific PSEN1 mutations and is frequently associated with “cotton wool” amyloid plaques. The pathophysiology underlying SP in FAD is not well understood, though disproportionate degeneration of the corticospinal tracts has been implicated.
We compared white matter integrity in two persons with the A431E PSEN1 mutation with early and severe SP to that of 8 symptomatic PSEN1 mutation carriers without SP from DTI images obtained on a 3T Siemens Trio scanner using 64 direction EPI sequence. Fractional Anisotropy (FA) images were generated using FSL Diffusion Toolbox. FA images were then processed using FSL Tract Based Spatial Statistics toolbox to obtain group level voxel-based statistical maps.
The patients with SP were men, mean age of 48, duration of illness of 5.5 years, and CDR SOB scores of 8.5. The 8 subjects without SP (5 men) had various PSEN1 mutations, mean age of 54 years, illness duration of 4.6 years, and CDR SOB scores of 6.1 (all P-values > .05). Using the false discovery rate to correct for multiple comparisons, significantly lower FA were seen in subjects with SP in widespread areas including in the orbitofrontal region, corpus callosum, bilateral precentral gyri, and the anterior limb of the right internal capsule. The reverse contrast revealed no areas in which persons without SP had lower FA relative to those with SP.
SP is the most evident clinical manifestation of widespread FA decreases in persons with the A431E PSEN1 mutation, suggesting it may be mediated by a generalized effect of this mutation on white matter.
To assess whether the production of profanity during letter fluency testing distinguishes frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients.
Alterations in language and social behavior typify FTD spectrum disorders. Nonetheless, in can be difficult to distinguish pathologically-defined frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) from AD clinically. Assessing verbal fluency by having patients generate as many words as they can beginning with specific letters in a given period of time can yield diverse information of diagnostic utility.
Words produced during FAS letter fluency testing were reviewed and instances of the use of "f*ck", "*ss", and "sh*t" and other words felt to be inappropriate were sought. The frequency of these words was compared between clinically diagnosed FTD and AD patients using chi-square tests.
We found that 6/32 (18.8%) patients with FTD generated the word "f*ck" during the "F" trial as opposed to none of 38 patients with AD (p = 0.007). Patients who said "f*ck" had diagnoses of either behavioral variant FTD (3/15), progressive non-fluent aphasia (2/8), or semantic dementia (1/3).
Though the specific neuropathology in these cases is uncertain, generation of "f*ck" during letter fluency testing appears to have utility in differentiating FTD from AD.
Profanity; Alzheimer's disease; frontotemporal dementia; letter fluency; expletives
Biological markers of utility in tracking Alzheimer's disease (AD) during the presymptomatic prodromal phase are important for prevention studies. Changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of 42-amino-acid β-amyloid (Aβ42), total tau protein (t-tau) and phosphorylated tau at residue 181 (p-tau181) during this state are incompletely characterized.
We measured CSF markers in 13 carriers of familial AD (FAD) mutations that are fully penetrant for causing AD (PSEN1 and APP) and in 5 non-mutation-carrying family members.
Even among the entirely presymptomatic mutation carriers (n = 9), Aβ42 was diminished (388.7 vs. 618.4 pg/ml, p = 0.004), and t-tau (138.5 vs. 50.5 pg/ml, p = 0.002) and p-tau181 (71.7 vs. 24.6 pg/ml, p = 0.003) were elevated. There was a negative correlation between Aβ42 levels and age relative to the family-specific age of dementia diagnosis.
Our data are consistent with a decline in CSF Aβ42 levels occurring at least 20 years prior to clinical dementia in FAD.
Cerebrospinal fluid; Biomarkers; Familial Alzheimer's disease, presymptomatic; PSEN1 gene; APP gene; tau protein; β-Amyloid, 42-amino-acid form
The order and magnitude of pathologic processes in Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood, partly because the disease develops over many years. Autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease has a predictable age at onset and provides an opportunity to determine the sequence and magnitude of pathologic changes that culminate in symptomatic disease.
In this prospective, longitudinal study, we analyzed data from 128 participants who underwent baseline clinical and cognitive assessments, brain imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood tests. We used the participant’s age at baseline assessment and the parent’s age at the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to calculate the estimated years from expected symptom onset (age of the participant minus parent’s age at symptom onset). We conducted cross-sectional analyses of baseline data in relation to estimated years from expected symptom onset in order to determine the relative order and magnitude of pathophysiological changes.
Concentrations of amyloid-beta (Aβ)42 in the CSF appeared to decline 25 years before expected symptom onset. Aβ deposition, as measured by positron-emission tomography with the use of Pittsburgh compound B, was detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Increased concentrations of tau protein in the CSF and an increase in brain atrophy were detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Cerebral hypometabolism and impaired episodic memory were observed 10 years before expected symptom onset. Global cognitive impairment, as measured by the Mini–Mental State Examination and the Clinical Dementia Rating scale, was detected 5 years before expected symptom onset, and patients met diagnostic criteria for dementia at an average of 3 years after expected symptom onset.
We found that autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease was associated with a series of pathophysiological changes over decades in CSF biochemical markers of Alzheimer’s disease, brain amyloid deposition, and brain metabolism as well as progressive cognitive impairment. Our results require confirmation with the use of longitudinal data and may not apply to patients with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging and others; DIAN ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00869817.)
Disproportionately greater deficits in semantic relative to phonemic verbal fluency are seen in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and have been attributed to neurodegenerative changes in the temporal lobe. Amnestic (AMN) mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which often represents incipient AD, is also characterized by early temporal lobe neuropathology, but previous comparisons of verbal fluency between AD and AMN MCI have yielded mixed results. We examined semantic and phonemic verbal fluency performance in 399 individuals (78 AD, 138 AMN MCI, 72 non-amnestic MCI, and 111 cognitively normal controls). Similar verbal fluency patterns were seen in AMN MCI and AD; both groups exhibited disproportionately poorer performance on semantic verbal fluency relative to normal controls. However, relative verbal fluency indices performed more poorly than individual semantic or phonemic verbal fluency indices for discriminating AMN MCI or AD participants from normal controls, suggesting that they are unlikely to provide additional utility for predicting progression from MCI to AD.
Mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer's disease; Verbal fluency; Dementia; Assessment; Cognition
Impairments in learning and recall have been well established in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). However, a relative dearth of studies has examined the profiles of memory strategy use in persons with aMCI relative to those with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Participants with aMCI, nonamnestic MCI, AD, and healthy older adults were administered the California Verbal Learning Test-II (CVLT-II). Measures of semantic clustering and recall were obtained across learning and delayed recall trials. In addition, we investigated whether deficits in semantic clustering were related to progression from healthy aging to aMCI and from aMCI to AD. The aMCI group displayed similar semantic clustering performance as the AD participants, whereas the AD group showed greater impairments on recall relative to the aMCI participants. Control participants who progressed to aMCI showed reduced semantic clustering at the short delay at baseline compared to individuals who remained diagnostically stable across follow-up visits. These findings show that the ability to engage in an effective memory strategy is compromised in aMCI, before AD has developed, suggesting that disruptions in semantic networks are an early marker of the disease.
Memory disorders; Disease progression; Memory; Dementia; Verbal learning; Diagnosis
Oligomerization of amyloid beta (Aβ) is a hypothesized step in the formation of plaques in Alzheimer's disease (AD) but has been difficult to demonstrate in vivo in humans. As persons destined to develop familial AD (FAD) due to fully penetrant autosomal dominant mutations are essentially certain to develop the disease, they provide the opportunity to identify oligomers during the presymptomatic stage of the disease.
We measured levels of Aβ42 using a conventional immunoassay and prefibrillar, fibrillar, and annular protofibrillar oligomers using polyclonal conformation-dependent antibodies in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 7 persons at risk for inheriting FAD mutations. Levels of oligomers were compared between FAD mutation carriers and noncarriers.
Compared to 2 noncarriers, annular protofibrillar oligomers were elevated, prefibrillar and fibrillar oligomers trended towards elevation and Aβ42 monomer trended towards being decreased in 5 FAD mutation carriers.
Our data provide evidence for an identifiable elevation of CSF oligomers during the presymptomatic phase of FAD.
Presymptomatic; Alzheimer's disease; Oligomer; Aβ; Aβ42; Cerebrospinal fluid; Presenilin-1; Amyloid precursor protein; Conformation
To explore the use of approximate entropy (ApEn) as an index of the complexity and the synchronicity of resting state BOLD fMRI in normal aging and cognitive decline associated with familial Alzheimer’s disease (fAD).
Materials and Methods
Resting state BOLD fMRI data were acquired at 3T from 2 independent cohorts of subjects consisting of healthy young (age 23±2 years, n=8) and aged volunteers (age 66±3 years, n=8), as well as 22 fAD associated subjects (14 mutation carriers, age 41.2±15.8 years; and 8 non-mutation carrying family members, age 28.8±5.9 years). Mean ApEn values were compared between the two age groups, and correlated with cognitive performance in the fAD group. Cross-ApEn (C-ApEn) was further calculated to assess the asynchrony between precuneus and the rest of the brain.
Complexity of brain activity measured by mean ApEn in gray and white matter decreased with normal aging. In the fAD group, cognitive impairment was associated with decreased mean ApEn in gray matter as well as decreased regional ApEn in right precuneus, right lateral parietal regions, left precentral gyrus, and right paracentral gyrus. A pattern of asynchrony between BOLD fMRI series emerged from C-ApEn analysis, with significant regional anti-correlation with cross-correlation coefficient of functional connectivity analysis.
ApEn and C-ApEn may be useful for assessing the complexity and synchronicity of brain activity in normal aging and cognitive decline associated with neurodegenerative diseases
Resting state BOLD fMRI; Approximate Entropy (ApEn); Complexity; Aging; Familial Alzheimer’s disease (fAD); Default mode network (DMN)
Atrophy in both grey and white matter is found in normal aging. The prefrontal cortex and the frontal lobe white matter are thought to be the most affected regions. Our aim was to examine the effects of normal aging on cortical grey matter using a 3D quantitative cortical mapping method.
We analyzed 1.5-tesla brain magnetic resonance imaging data from 44 cognitively normal elderly subjects using cortical pattern matching and cortical thickness analyses. Linear regression analysis was used to study the effect of age on cortical thickness. 3D map-wide correction for multiple comparisons was conducted with permutation analyses using a threshold of p < 0.01.
We found a significant negative association between age and cortical thickness in the right hemisphere (pcorrected = 0.009) and a trend level association in the left hemisphere (pcorrected = 0.081). Age-related changes were greatest in the sensorimotor, bilateral dorsal anterior cingulate and supplementary motor cortices, and the right posterior middle and inferior frontal gyri. Age effects greater in the medial than lateral visual association cortices were also seen bilaterally.
Our novel method further validates that normal aging results in diffuse cortical thinning that is most pronounced in the frontal and visual association cortices.
Normal aging; Imaging; Atrophy; Cognition; Magnetic resonance imaging
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is commonly associated with excessive daytime somnolence (EDS). Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent that is considered to have limited interaction with the dopaminergic system. As individuals with DLB are predisposed to psychotic symptoms which might be exacerbated by dopaminergic stimulation, modafinil is considered to be an attractive option for the treatment of EDS in DLB. We describe two cases in which administration of modafinil exacerbated agitation and hallucinations in DLB, and we also review data that may explain the mechanisms underlying this effect. In both cases, psychotic symptoms emerged concomitantly with modafinil administration, and remitted following its discontinuation. Although definitive data regarding the benefits and adverse effects of modafinil for the treatment of EDS in DLB await controlled prospective randomized studies, our observations warrant caution regarding its use in this context.
modafinil; dementia with Lewy bodies; excessive daytime somnolence; psychosis; agitation
Spanish-language screening tests that are sensitive to the early cognitive changes of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are needed. Persons known to be at 50% risk for young-onset AD due to presenilin-1 (PSEN1) mutations provide the opportunity to assess which measures on the Mini-mental State Examination (MMSE) are most sensitive to these early changes.
We performed genetic and Spanish-language cognitive testing on 50 Mexican persons without dementia at risk for inheriting PSEN1 mutations. We then compared the performance on sub-items of the MMSE between PSEN1 mutation carriers (MCs) and non-carriers (NCs) using t-tests and Fisher’s exact tests. Exploratory multiple logistic regression analyses were also performed.
Twenty-nine persons were MCs and 21 NCs. NCs tended to achieve higher levels of education (p = 0.039) than did MCs. MCs tended to perform more poorly when spelling “MUNDO” backwards and on Orientation, particularly regarding the date. In multiple regression analyses the ability of backwards spelling to predict PSEN1 mutation status was reduced when education was included as an independent variable.
Subjects in the earliest stage of PSEN1-related AD showed deficits on orientation to date and in divided attention when spelling backwards. It is unclear if educational level should be considered an associated feature or a confounding variable in this population although it should be taken into account when considering performance on the MMSE task of divided attention. The relative lack of deficits on delayed recall of three words probably represents the insensitivity of this measure in early AD. This study supports the utility of autosomal dominant AD as a model of the more common sporadic form of the disorder.
Alzheimer’s disease; presenilin; cognition; preclinical; Mini-mental State Examination; screening test; Spanish; education