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Blood and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease: from clinical to preclinical cohorts

Keshavan, Ashvini; (2019) Blood and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease: from clinical to preclinical cohorts. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Dementia is a major contributor to global morbidity, mortality and costs associated with health and social care. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a common pathology culminating in dementia, but it has a preclinical phase of one to two decades, with early brain deposition of amyloid and tau, followed by synaptic and neuronal degeneration. Early detection during the preclinical phase of AD might enable disease-modifying therapies to be applied during a window of opportunity in which they would be more likely to work. Currently the main biomarkers of AD pathology are neuroimaging markers, which can be costly, or cerebrospinal fluid markers, which require invasive sampling. Blood biomarkers would be relatively less invasive and could be a more cost-effective means for risk stratification, early detection, monitoring progression and measuring response to treatment. The work described here used sensitive assay technology including the Simoa digital immunoassay platform, in large and well-characterised cohorts, to examine candidate blood biomarkers linked to the core AD pathologies of amyloid, tau and neurodegeneration, as specified by the National Institute on Aging and Alzheimer’s Association 2018 research framework. Firstly, experiments on samples from a cognitive clinic cohort established the stability of the blood biomarkers Aβ40, Aβ42, total tau and neurofilament light chain (NFL – a marker of neurodegeneration) to multiple freeze-thaw cycles, and the optimal blood fraction to use for quantifying each of these biomarkers in onward studies. Secondly, an unique large preclinical cohort with life course data (Insight 46, the neuroscience sub-study of 502 individuals from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development; the 1946 British birth cohort) was used to examine the cross-sectional relationships between these blood biomarkers, neuroimaging biomarkers (18F-florbetapir amyloid PET, whole brain and hippocampal volumes, white matter hyperintensity volume and cortical thickness in an AD signature region) and cognitive performance (PACC: preclinical Alzheimer’s composite and its constituents). Through a collaboration with the University of Gothenburg, a novel liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) method for quantification of plasma amyloid-β species was compared with the commercial Simoa assays in Insight 46. This was the first direct method comparison study of plasma amyloid-β species for the detection of preclinical cerebral amyloid deposition. It showed that the LC-MS method, when combined with age, sex and APOE #-4 carrier status, was able to distinguish PET amyloid status with an optimal (Youden’s cut point) sensitivity of 85.7% and specificity of 72.7%. The Simoa biomarkers of plasma total tau and serum NFL were confirmed to be potentially useful prognostic markers, as lower AD signature cortical thickness was associated with higher plasma total tau and serum NFL, lower whole brain volume was associated with higher plasma total tau, and higher ventricular volume was associated with higher serum NFL. Lower PACC scores were associated with higher serum NFL and lower scores for a paired associative memory test in particular were associated with higher plasma total tau and serum NFL. Thirdly, through a collaboration with Harvard University and the University of California San Diego, a new N-terminal tau biomarker was developed in CSF and plasma that showed good accuracy in distinguishing individuals with symptomatic CSF-defined AD pathology from healthy controls. Taken together, this work has demonstrated the impact of pre-analytical factors on measurements of AD blood biomarkers, validated these biomarkers as indicators of the core pathologies of AD and helped to develop a new tau blood biomarker in AD.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Blood and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease: from clinical to preclinical cohorts
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Neurodegenerative Diseases
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082976
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