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MRI-Derived AD Signature of Cortical Thinning and Plasma P-Tau217 for Predicting Alzheimer Dementia Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults.

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Structural brain MRI and blood-based phosphorylated tau (p-tau) measures are among the least invasive and least expensive Alzheimer's disease (AD) biomarkers to date. The extent to which these biomarkers may outperform one another in predicting future Alzheimer dementia diagnosis is poorly understood, however. This study investigated 2 specific AD biomarkers, i.e., a cortical thickness signature of AD (AD-CT) and plasma p-tau217, for predicting Alzheimer dementia.

METHODS: Data came from community-dwelling older participants of the Religious Orders Study or the Rush Memory and Aging Project. AD-CT was obtained from 3T MRI scans using a magnetization-prepared rapid acquisition gradient echo sequence and by averaging thickness from previously identified cortical regions implicated in AD. Plasma p-tau217 was quantified using an immunoassay developed by Lilly Research Laboratories on the MSD platform. Both MRI scans and blood specimens were collected at the same visits, and subsequent diagnoses of Alzheimer dementia were determined through annual detailed clinical evaluations. Cox proportional hazards models examined the associations of the 2 biomarkers with incident Alzheimer dementia, and prediction accuracy was assessed using c-statistics.

RESULTS: A total of 198 older adults, on average 84 years of age, were included. Over a mean follow-up of 4 years, 60 (30%) individuals developed Alzheimer dementia. AD-CT (hazard ratio: 1.71, 95% CI 1.26-2.31) and separately plasma p-tau217 (hazard ratio: 2.57, 95% CI 1.83-3.61) were associated with incident Alzheimer dementia. The c-statistic for prediction accuracy was consistently higher for plasma p-tau217 (between 0.74 and 0.81) than AD-CT (between 0.70 and 0.75) across a range of time horizons. Furthermore, with both biomarkers included in the same model, there was only modest improvement in the c-statistic due to AD-CT.

DISCUSSION: Plasma p-tau217 outperforms an imaging-based cortical thickness signature of AD in predicting future Alzheimer dementia diagnosis. Furthermore, the AD cortical thickness signature adds little to the prediction accuracy above and beyond plasma p-tau217.

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