Biomarkers as Monitors of Drug Effect, Diagnostic Tools and Predictors of Deterioration Rate in Alzheimer’s Disease

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Decreased amyloid-ß42 (Aß42), increased total tau (t-tau) and phosphorylated tau (p-tau) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) reflect histopathological core changes in the most common dementia disorder, Alzheimer’s disease (AD). They discriminate AD from healthy controls and predict conversion to AD with a relatively high accuracy. Memantine, an uncompetitive NMDA-receptor antagonist, is indicated for symptomatic treatment of AD. The first aim of this thesis was to investigate effects of memantine on CSF concentrations of A?42, tau and p-tau. Secondly, the aim was to explore the relation between these CSF biomarkers and retention of the amyloid biomarker Pittsburgh compound B using positron emission tomography (PIB PET), regional glucose metabolism measured with 18Fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose (FDG) PET and neuropsychological test performance. The third aim was to investigate their possible utility as predictors of future rate of AD dementia deterioration. All patients in the studies were recruited from the Memory Clinic, Uppsala University Hospital. In study I CSF p-tau concentrations in 11 AD patients were reduced after twelve months treatment with memantine, indicating that this compound may affect a key pathological process in AD. Results from study II showed that the concentrations of CSF Aß42 are lower in PIB+ patients than in PIB- patients, and that the PIB retention was stable during 12 months. In study III 10 patients with the diagnoses AD (6 PIB+/4 PIB-) and 8 subjects (1 PIB+/7 PIB-) with frontotemporal dementia were included. PIB+ patients had lower psychomotor speed measured by performance on the Trail Making Test A and impaired visual episodic memory compared to the PIB- patients. The initial clinical diagnoses were changed in 33% of the patients (6/18) during follow-up. Study IV is the first-ever report of an association between high CSF tau and dying in severe dementia. These 196 AD patients were followed up to nine years after baseline lumbar puncture. Moreover, CSF t-tau concentrations above median was associated with an increased risk of rapid cognitive decline (OR 3.31 (95% CI 1.53-7.16), independently of baseline functional stage. Thus, a clear association between high levels of CSF t-tau and p-tau and a more aggressive course of the disease was shown.