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Recommended articles on Alzheimer’s disease

Published on: 3 Nov 2021 Viewed: 342

Our staff editors continue to share exciting, interesting, and thought-provoking reading material in the recommended articles series.

This week, we would like to share several latest articles on Alzheimer’s disease.

Title: Plasma p-tau231: a new biomarker for incipient Alzheimer’s disease pathology
Authors: Nicholas J. Ashton, Tharick A. Pascoal, Thomas K. Karikari, Andréa L. Benedet, Juan Lantero-Rodriguez, Gunnar Brinkmalm, Anniina Snellman, Michael Schöll, Claire Troakes, Abdul Hye, Serge Gauthier, Eugeen Vanmechelen, Henrik Zetterberg, Pedro Rosa-Neto, Kaj Blennow
Type: Original Paper of Acta Neuropathologica
The quantification of phosphorylated tau in biofluids, either cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or plasma, has shown great promise in detecting Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathophysiology. Tau phosphorylated at threonine 231 (p-tau231) is one such biomarker in CSF but its usefulness as a blood biomarker is currently unknown. Here, we developed an ultrasensitive Single molecule array (Simoa) for the quantification of plasma p-tau231 which was validated in four independent cohorts (n = 588) in different settings, including the full AD continuum and non-AD neurodegenerative disorders. Plasma p-tau231 was able to identify patients with AD and differentiate them from amyloid-β negative cognitively unimpaired (CU) older adults with high accuracy (AUC = 0.92–0.94). Plasma p-tau231 also distinguished AD patients from patients with non-AD neurodegenerative disorders (AUC = 0.93), as well as from amyloid-β negative MCI patients (AUC = 0.89). In a neuropathology cohort, plasma p-tau231 in samples taken on average 4.2 years prior to post-mortem very accurately identified AD neuropathology in comparison to non-AD neurodegenerative disorders (AUC = 0.99), this is despite all patients being given an AD dementia diagnosis during life. Plasma p-tau231 was highly correlated with CSF p-tau231, tau pathology as assessed by [18F]MK-6240 positron emission tomography (PET), and brain amyloidosis by [18F]AZD469 PET. Remarkably, the inflection point of plasma p-tau231, increasing as a function of continuous [18F]AZD469 amyloid-β PET standardized uptake value ratio, was shown to be earlier than standard thresholds of amyloid-β PET positivity and the increase of plasma p-tau181. Furthermore, plasma p-tau231 was significantly increased in amyloid-β PET quartiles 2–4, whereas CSF p-tau217 and plasma p-tau181 increased only at quartiles 3–4 and 4, respectively. Finally, plasma p-tau231 differentiated individuals across the entire Braak stage spectrum, including Braak staging from Braak 0 through Braak I–II, which was not observed for plasma p-tau181. To conclude, this novel plasma p-tau231 assay identifies the clinical stages of AD and neuropathology equally well as plasma p-tau181, but increases earlier, already with subtle amyloid-β deposition, prior to the threshold for amyloid-β PET positivity has been attained, and also in response to early brain tau deposition. Thus, plasma p-tau231 is a promising novel biomarker of emerging AD pathology with the potential to facilitate clinical trials to identify vulnerable populations below PET threshold of amyloid-β positivity or apparent entorhinal tau deposition.
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Title: Integration of Alzheimer’s disease genetics and myeloid genomics identifies disease risk regulatory elements and genes
Authors: Gloriia Novikova, Manav Kapoor, Julia TCW, Edsel M. Abud, Anastasia G. Efthymiou, Steven X. Chen, Haoxiang Cheng, John F. Fullard, Jaroslav Bendl, Yiyuan Liu, Panos Roussos, Johan LM Björkegren, Yunlong Liu, Wayne W. Poon, Ke Hao, Edoardo Marcora, Alison M. Goate
Type: Article of Nature Communications
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified more than 40 loci associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but the causal variants, regulatory elements, genes and pathways remain largely unknown, impeding a mechanistic understanding of AD pathogenesis. Previously, we showed that AD risk alleles are enriched in myeloid-specific epigenomic annotations. Here, we show that they are specifically enriched in active enhancers of monocytes, macrophages and microglia. We integrated AD GWAS with myeloid epigenomic and transcriptomic datasets using analytical approaches to link myeloid enhancer activity to target gene expression regulation and AD risk modification. We identify AD risk enhancers and nominate candidate causal genes among their likely targets (including AP4E1, AP4M1, APBB3, BIN1, MS4A4A, MS4A6A, PILRA, RABEP1, SPI1, TP53INP1, and ZYX) in twenty loci. Fine-mapping of these enhancers nominates candidate functional variants that likely modify AD risk by regulating gene expression in myeloid cells. In the MS4A locus we identified a single candidate functional variant and validated it in human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived microglia and brain. Taken together, this study integrates AD GWAS with multiple myeloid genomic datasets to investigate the mechanisms of AD risk alleles and nominates candidate functional variants, regulatory elements and genes that likely modulate disease susceptibility.
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Title: Machine learning identifies candidates for drug repurposing in Alzheimer’s disease
Authors: Steve Rodriguez, Clemens Hug, Petar Todorov, Nienke Moret, Sarah A. Boswell, Kyle Evans, George Zhou, Nathan T. Johnson, Bradley T. Hyman, Peter K. Sorger, Mark W. Albers, Artem Sokolov
Type: Article of Nature Communications
Clinical trials of novel therapeutics for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) have consumed a large amount of time and resources with largely negative results. Repurposing drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for another indication is a more rapid and less expensive option. We present DRIAD (Drug Repurposing In AD), a machine learning framework that quantifies potential associations between the pathology of AD severity (the Braak stage) and molecular mechanisms as encoded in lists of gene names. DRIAD is applied to lists of genes arising from perturbations in differentiated human neural cell cultures by 80 FDA-approved and clinically tested drugs, producing a ranked list of possible repurposing candidates. Top-scoring drugs are inspected for common trends among their targets. We propose that the DRIAD method can be used to nominate drugs that, after additional validation and identification of relevant pharmacodynamic biomarker(s), could be readily evaluated in a clinical trial.
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Title: Moving fluid biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease from research tools to routine clinical diagnostics
Authors: Henrik Zetterberg, Kaj Blennow
Type: Review of Molecular Neurodegeneration
Four fluid-based biomarkers have been developed into diagnostic tests for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology: the ratio of 42 to 40 amino acid-long amyloid β, a marker of plaque pathology; total-tau and phosphorylated tau, markers of AD-related changes in tau metabolism and secretion; and neurofilament light, a marker of neurodegeneration. When measured in cerebrospinal fluid, these biomarkers can be used in clinical practice to support a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or dementia due to AD. Recently, technological breakthroughs have made it possible to measure them in standard blood samples as well. Here, we give an updated account of the current state of the fluid-based AD biomarker research field. We discuss how the new blood tests may be used in research and clinical practice, and what role they may play in relation to more established diagnostic tests, such as CSF biomarkers and amyloid and tau positron emission tomography, to facilitate the effective implementation of future disease-modifying therapies.
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Title: Mild behavioral impairment and its relation to tau pathology in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease
Authors: Maurits Johansson, Erik Stomrud, Philip S. Insel, Antoine Leuzy, Per Mårten Johansson, Ruben Smith, Zahinoor Ismail, Shorena Janelidze, Sebastian Palmqvist, Danielle van Westen, Niklas Mattsson-Carlgren, Oskar Hansson
Type: Article of Translational Psychiatry
Mild behavioral impairment (MBI) is suggested as risk marker for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recently, pathologic tau deposition in the brain has been shown closely related to clinical manifestations, such as cognitive deficits. Yet, associations between tau pathology and MBI have rarely been investigated. It is further debated if MBI precedes cognitive deficits in AD. Here, we explored potential mechanisms by which MBI is related to AD, this by studying associations between MBI and tau in preclinical AD. In all, 50 amyloid-β-positive cognitively unimpaired subjects (part of the BioFINDER-2 study) underwent MBI-checklist (MBI-C) to assess MBI, and the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale – Cognitive subscale (ADAS-Cog) delayed word recall (ADAS-DR) to assess episodic memory. Early tau pathology was determined using tau-PET ([18F]RO948 retention in entorhinal cortex/hippocampus) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) P-tau181. Regression models were used to test for associations. We found that higher tau-PET signal in the entorhinal cortex/hippocampus and CSF P-tau181 levels were associated with higher MBI-C scores (β = 0.010, SE = 0.003, p = 0.003 and β = 1.263, SE = 0.446, p = 0.007, respectively). When MBI-C and ADAS-DR were entered together in the regression models, tau-PET (β = 0.009, p = 0.009) and CSF P-tau181 (β = 0.408, p = 0.006) were predicted by MBI-C, but not ADAS-DR. We conclude that in preclinical AD, MBI is associated with tau independently from memory deficits. This denotes MBI as an important early clinical manifestation related to tau pathology in AD.
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Title: Mass spectrometry-based methods for robust measurement of Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in biological fluids
Authors: Magdalena Korecka, Leslie M. Shaw
Type: Review Article of Journal of Neurochemistry
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia affecting 60%–70% of people afflicted with this disease. Accurate antemortem diagnosis is urgently needed for early detection of AD to enable reliable estimation of prognosis, intervention, and monitoring of the disease. The National Institute on Aging/Alzheimer's Association sponsored the ‘Research Framework: towards a biological definition of AD’, which recommends using different biomarkers in living persons for a biomarker-based definition of AD regardless of clinical status. Fluid biomarkers represent one of key groups of them. Since cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is in direct contact with brain and many proteins present in the brain can be detected in CSF, this fluid has been regarded as the best biofluid in which to measure AD biomarkers. Recently, technological advancements in protein detection made possible the effective study of plasma AD biomarkers despite their significantly lower concentrations versus to that in CSF. This and other challenges that face plasma-based biomarker measurements can be overcome by using mass spectrometry. In this review, we discuss AD biomarkers which can be reliably measured in CSF and plasma using targeted mass spectrometry coupled to liquid chromatography (LC/MS/MS). We describe progress in LC/MS/MS methods’ development, emphasize the challenges, and summarize major findings. We also highlight the role of mass spectrometry and progress made in the process of global standardization of the measurement of Aβ42/Aβ40. Finally, we briefly describe exploratory proteomics which seek to identify new biomarkers that can contribute to detection of co-pathological processes that are common in sporadic AD.
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