Objective: The longitudinal association of the blood biomarkers total tau (t-tau), neurofilament light (Nf-L), and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) with common sporadic Alzheimer disease (AD) and cognitive decline is not established. Methods: Using a single molecule array technology, ultrasensitive immunoassays for serum concentrations of t-tau, Nf-L, and GFAP were measured in a population sample of 1,327 participants (60% African Americans and women) who had a clinical evaluation for AD, had completed in-home cognitive assessments, and had undergone 1.5T structural magnetic resonance imaging. Results: Higher concentrations of serum biomarkers were associated with the development of clinical AD; especially, the time-specific associations were notable: t-tau 8 to 16 years, and Nf-L and GFAP 4 to 8 years prior to clinical AD. Serum biomarkers were associated with faster cognitive decline over 16 years; baseline t-tau > 0.40pg/ml had 30% faster decline, Nf-L > 25.5pg/ml had 110% faster decline, and GFAP > 232pg/ml had 130% faster decline compared to those in the lowest quartile. Participants with baseline GFAP > 232pg/ml showed 160% faster decline in hippocampal volume compared to those with values < 160pg/ml. Additionally, higher baseline t-tau was associated with faster increase in 3rd ventricular volume, and baseline Nf-L and GFAP were associated with faster decline in cortical thickness. Interpretation: Serum t-tau, Nf-L, and GFAP predict the development of sporadic AD and cognitive decline, and changes in structural brain characteristics, suggesting their usefulness not only as screening and predictive biomarkers, but also in capturing the pathogenesis of Alzheimer dementia. ANN NEUROL 2020.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology