Non-beta-amyloid/tau cerebrospinal fluid markers inform staging and progression in Alzheimer's disease

Umesh Gangishetti, J. Christina Howell, Richard J. Perrin, Natalia Louneva, Kelly D. Watts, Alexander Kollhoff, Murray Grossman, David A. Wolk, Leslie M. Shaw, John C. Morris, John Q. Trojanowski, Anne M. Fagan, Steven E. Arnold, William T. Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a complex neurodegenerative disorder characterized by neuropathologic changes involving beta-amyloid (Aβ), tau, neuronal loss, and other associated biological events. While levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) Aβ and tau peptides have enhanced the antemortem detection of AD-specific changes, these two markers poorly reflect the severity of cognitive and functional deficits in people with altered Aβ and tau levels. While multiple previous studies identified non-Aβ, non-tau proteins as candidate neurodegenerative markers to inform the A/T/N biomarker scheme of AD, few have advanced beyond association with clinical AD diagnosis. Here we analyzed nine promising neurodegenerative markers in a three-centered cohort using independent assays to identify candidates most likely to complement Aβ and tau in the A/T/N framework. Methods: CSF samples from 125 subjects recruited at the three centers were exchanged such that each of the nine previously identified biomarkers can be measured at one of the three centers. Subjects were classified according to cognitive status and CSF AD biomarker profiles as having normal cognition and normal CSF (n = 31), normal cognition and CSF consistent with AD (n = 13), mild cognitive impairment and normal CSF (n = 13), mild cognitive impairment with CSF consistent with AD (n = 23), AD dementia (n = 32; CSF consistent with AD), and other non-AD dementia (n = 13; CSF not consistent with AD). Results: Three biomarkers were identified to differ among the AD stages, including neurofilament light chain (NfL; p < 0.001), fatty acid binding protein 3 (Fabp3; p < 0.001), and interleukin (IL)-10 (p = 0.033). Increased NfL levels were most strongly associated with the dementia stage of AD, but increased Fabp3 levels were more sensitive to milder AD stages and correlated with both CSF tau markers. IL-10 levels did not correlate with tau biomarkers, but were associated with rates of longitudinal cognitive decline in mild cognitive impairment due to AD (p = 0.006). Prefreezing centrifugation did not influence measured CSF biomarker levels. Conclusion: CSF proteins associated with AD clinical stages and progression can complement Aβ and tau markers to inform neurodegeneration. A validated panel inclusive of multiple biomarker features (etiology, stage, progression) can improve AD phenotyping along the A/T/N framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number98
JournalAlzheimer's Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 25 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty acid binding protein
  • Interleukin-10
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Neurofilament light chain


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