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J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;23(3):399-409. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-101335.

Plasma amyloid-β as a function of age, level of intellectual disability, and presence of dementia in Down syndrome.

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  • 1Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, University of California, Irvine, CA 40536, USA.


Adults with Down syndrome (DS) are at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). While plasma amyloid-β (Aβ) is known to be elevated in DS, its relationship to cognitive functioning is unknown. To assess this relationship, samples from two groups of subjects were used. In the first group, nondemented adults with DS were compared to: 1) a group of young and old individuals without DS and 2) to a group of patients with AD. Compared to these controls, there were significantly higher levels of plasma Aβ in nondemented adults with DS while AD patients showed lower levels of plasma Aβ. A larger second group included demented and nondemented adults with DS, in order to test the hypothesis that plasma Aβ may vary as a function of dementia and Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) genotype. Plasma Aβ levels alone did not dissociate DS adults with and without dementia. However, in demented adults with DS, ApoE4 was associated with higher Aβ40 but not Aβ42. After controlling for level of intellectual disability (mild, moderate, severe) and the presence or absence of dementia, there was an improved prediction of neuropsychological scores by plasma Aβ. In summary, plasma Aβ can help predict cognitive function in adults with DS independently of the presence or absence of dementia.

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