Cavedo E, Lista S, Houot M, Vergallo A, Grothe MJ, Teipel S, Zetterberg H, Blennow K, Habert MO, Potier MC, Dubois B and Hampel H.
Objective To investigate whether baseline concentrations of plasma total tau (t-tau) and neurofilament light (NfL) chain proteins are associated with annual percent change (APC) of the basal forebrain cholinergic system (BFCS) in cognitively intact older adults at risk for Alzheimer disease (AD).
Methods This was a large-scale study of 276 cognitively intact older adults from the monocentric INSIGHT-preAD (Investigation of Alzheimer's Predictors in Subjective Memory Complainers) cohort. Participants underwent baseline assessment of plasma t-tau and NfL concentrations as well as baseline and 24-month follow-up MRI scans. Linear models with and without influential observations (calculated using the Cook distance) were carried out to investigate the effect of plasma NfL and t-tau concentrations, and their interaction effect with β-amyloid status and APOE genotype, on the APC of the whole BFCS and its anterior (Ch1/2) and posterior (Ch4) subdivisions separately.
Results Higher plasma t-tau concentrations at baseline were associated with higher BFCS rate of atrophy (model without influencers: n = 251, F value = 4.6815; p value = 0.031). Subregional analyses showed similar results for both the APC of the Ch1/2 (model without influencers: n = 256, F value = 3.9535, p corrected = 0.047) and Ch4 BFCS sectors (model without influencers: n = 253, F value = 4.9090, p corrected = 0.047). Baseline NfL, β-amyloid load, and APOE ε4 carrier status did not affect APC of the BFCS.
Conclusion Increased concentrations of baseline plasma t-tau may predict in vivo structural BFCS atrophy progression in older adults at risk for AD, independently of β-amyloid status and APOE genotype.