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Tropea TF, Waligorska T, Xie SX, Nasrallah IM, Cousins KAQ, Trojanowski JQ, Grossman M, Irwin DJ, Weintraub D, Lee EB, Wolk DA, Chen-Plotkin AS, Shaw LM, Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Plasma phosphorylated tau181 predicts cognitive and functional decline. Annals of clinical and translational neurology. 2023 Jan 1; 10(1):18-31.
OBJECTIVE: To determine if plasma tau phosphorylated at threonine 181 (p-tau181) distinguishes pathology-confirmed Alzheimer''s disease (AD) from normal cognition (NC) adults, to test if p-tau181 predicts cognitive and functional decline, and to validate findings in an external cohort. METHODS: Thirty-one neuropathology-confirmed AD cases, participants with clinical diagnoses of mild cognitive impairment (MCI, N = 91) or AD dementia (N = 64), and NC (N = 241) had plasma collected at study entry. The clinical diagnosis groups had annual cognitive (Mini-Mental State Examination, MMSE) and functional (Clinical Dementia Rating Scale, CDR) measures. NC (N = 70), MCI (N = 75), and AD dementia (N = 50) cases from the Alzheimer''s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) were used as a validation cohort. Plasma p-tau181 was measured using the Quanterix SiMoA HD-X platform. RESULTS: Plasma p-tau181 differentiated pathology-confirmed AD from NC with negative amyloid PET scans with an AUC of 0.93. A cut point of 3.44?pg/mL (maximum Youden Index) had a sensitivity of 0.77, specificity of 0.96. p-Tau181 values above the cut point were associated with the faster rate of decline in MMSE in AD dementia and MCI and a shorter time to a clinically significant functional decline in all groups. In a subset of MCI cases from ADNI, p-tau181 values above the cut point associated with faster rate of decline in MMSE, and a shorter time to a clinically significant functional decline and conversion to dementia. INTERPRETATION: Plasma p-tau181 differentiates AD pathology cases from NC with high accuracy. Higher levels of plasma p-tau181 are associated with faster cognitive and functional decline.