Publications & Posters

Plasma Biomarker Strategy for Selecting Patients With Alzheimer Disease for Antiamyloid Immunotherapies

JAMA Neurology | December 4, 2023

Mattsson-Carlgren N, Collij LE, Stomrud E, Pichet Binette A, Ossenkoppele R, Smith R, Karlsson L, Lantero-Rodriguez J, Snellman A, Strandberg O, Palmqvist S, Ashton NJ, Blennow K, Janelidze S, Hansson O.

JAMA Neurol. 2024

This study was performed using Simoa Homebrew assay(s).


Importance  Antiamyloid immunotherapies against Alzheimer disease (AD) are emerging. Scalable, cost-effective tools will be needed to identify amyloid β (Aβ)–positive patients without an advanced stage of tau pathology who are most likely to benefit from these therapies. Blood-based biomarkers might reduce the need to use cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or positron emission tomography (PET) for this.

Objective  To evaluate plasma biomarkers for identifying Aβ positivity and stage of tau accumulation.

Design, Setting, and Participants  The cohort study (BioFINDER-2) was a prospective memory-clinic and population-based study. Participants with cognitive concerns were recruited from 2017 to 2022 and divided into a training set (80% of the data) and test set (20%).

Exposure  Baseline values for plasma phosphorylated tau 181 (p-tau181), p-tau217, p-tau231, N-terminal tau, glial fibrillary acidic protein, and neurofilament light chain.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Performance to classify participants by Aβ status (defined by Aβ-PET or CSF Aβ42/40) and tau status (tau PET). Number of hypothetically saved PET scans in a plasma biomarker–guided workflow.

Results  Of a total 912 participants, there were 499 males (54.7%) and 413 females (45.3%), and the mean (SD) age was 71.1 (8.49) years. Among the biomarkers, plasma p-tau217 was most strongly associated with Aβ positivity (test-set area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC] = 0.94; 95% CI, 0.90-0.97). A 2–cut-point procedure was evaluated, where only participants with ambiguous plasma p-tau217 values (17.1% of the participants in the test set) underwent CSF or PET to assign definitive Aβ status. This procedure had an overall sensitivity of 0.94 (95% CI, 0.90-0.98) and a specificity of 0.86 (95% CI, 0.77-0.95). Next, plasma biomarkers were used to differentiate low-intermediate vs high tau-PET load among Aβ-positive participants. Plasma p-tau217 again performed best, with the test AUC = 0.92 (95% CI, 0.86-0.97), without significant improvement when adding any of the other plasma biomarkers. At a false-negative rate less than 10%, the use of plasma p-tau217 could avoid 56.9% of tau-PET scans needed to identify high tau PET among Aβ-positive participants. The results were validated in an independent cohort (n = 118).

Conclusions and Relevance  This study found that algorithms using plasma p-tau217 can accurately identify most Aβ-positive individuals, including those likely to have a high tau load who would require confirmatory tau-PET imaging. Plasma p-tau217 measurements may substantially reduce the number of invasive and costly confirmatory tests required to identify individuals who would likely benefit from antiamyloid therapies.