Publications & Posters

Plasma biomarker profiles and the correlation with cognitive function across the clinical spectrum of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy | July 5, 2021

Xiao Z, Wu X, Wu W, Yi J, Liang X, Ding S, Zheng L, Luo J, Gu H, Zhao Q, Xu H and Ding D

Alzheimers Res Ther. 2021;13:123




Plasma biomarkers showed a promising value in the disease diagnosis and management of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, profiles of the biomarkers and the associations with cognition across a spectrum of cognitive stages have seldom been reported.


We recruited 320 individuals with cognitive impairment and 131 cognitively normal participants from a memory clinic and a community cohort. Participants were classified into 6 groups based on their Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) scores and clinical diagnosis, including AD, amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), and normal cognition (NC). A battery of neuropsychological tests was used to assess the global and domain-specific cognition. Plasma Aβ1-40, Aβ1-42, Aβ1-42/Aβ1-40, total tau (t-tau), neurofilament protein light chain (NfL), and phosphorylated tau at threonine 181 (p-tau181) were quantified using the single-molecule array (Simoa) platform.


All the plasma markers (Aβ1-40, Aβ1-42, Aβ1-42/Aβ1-40, t-tau, NfL, p-tau181) showed certain discrepancies among NC, aMCI, and AD groups. The p-tau181 level showed a continuous escalating trend as the CDR scores increased from 0 (NC group) to 3 (severe AD). Compared with other biomarkers, p-tau181 had correlations with broader cognitive domains, covering global cognition (r = −0.536, P < 0.0001), memory (r = −0.481, P < 0.0001), attention (r = −0.437, P < 0.0001), visuospatial function (r = −0.385, P < 0.0001), and language (r = −0.177, P = 0.0003). Among participants with CDR ≥ 1, higher p-tau181 was correlated with worse global cognition (r = −0.301, P < 0.001).


Plasma p-tau181 had correlations with broader cognitive domains, suggesting its potential as a promising clinical-relevant blood-based biomarker.