Cerebrospinal fluid tau and beta-amyloid 42 proteins identify Alzheimer disease in subjects with mild cognitive impairment

M Riemenschneider, N Lautenschlager, S Wagenpfeil, J Diehl, A Drzezga, A Kurz
Archives of Neurology 2002, 59 (11): 1729-34

CONTEXT: Cerebrospinal fluid tau protein and beta-amyloid 42 (Abeta42) protein are altered even in very mild Alzheimer disease (AD). So far, few data exist for subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the potential of cerebrospinal fluid tau and Abeta42 for predicting progression from MCI to AD in a longitudinal study of 28 patients with MCI who received follow-up for 18 months.

DESIGN: An 18-month prospective study.

SETTING: Clinical follow-up study of community-residing subjects with MCI.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Cerebrospinal fluid tau and Abeta42 concentrations were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay at baseline. The potential of both biomarkers was evaluated to predict the progression to dementia, the end point of this study, using multiple logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: Of 28 subjects with MCI, 12 progressed to dementia (2 to frontotemporal dementia; 10 to AD). Six subjects had progressive MCI, and 10 subjects showed stable MCI. Cerebrospinal fluid tau levels were significantly elevated in patients who progressed to probable AD (P =.002) and subjects with progressive MCI (P =.003) compared with subjects who had stable MCI. Cerebrospinal fluid Abeta42 levels were significantly lower in patients who progressed to probable AD (P =.007) and those with progressive MCI (P =.04) than in subjects with stable MCI. Logistic regression analysis identified elevated tau protein level as a predictor of cognitive deterioration (P =.02), whereas a delayed verbal recall score at baseline was significantly associated with the development of probable AD (P =.03).

CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that altered tau and Abeta42 concentrations may be detectable in subjects who are clinically diagnosed as having MCI but demonstrate the pathological changes of AD.

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