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Neurology. 2008 May 6;70(19):1664-71. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000306696.82017.66. Epub 2008 Apr 9.

Plasma amyloid levels and the risk of AD in normal subjects in the Cardiovascular Health Study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



To examine the association between incident Alzheimer disease (AD), and plasma A beta 1-40 and A beta 1-42 levels in normal and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) subjects in a subgroup of participants of the Cardiovascular Health Study Cognition Study.


We determined the plasma A beta 1-40 and A beta 1-42 levels of 274 nondemented subjects (232 normals and 42 with MCI) in 1998-1999 and repeated the measurements in 2002-2003. The mean age of the subjects at baseline was 79.3 +/- 3.6 years. We examined the association between A beta levels and incident AD over the ensuing 4.5 years, controlling for age, cystatin C level (marker of glomerular function), apolipoprotein E-4 allele, Modified-Mini-Mental State Examination scores, and MRI-identified infarcts.


In an unadjusted prospective model in normal subjects, both A beta 1-40 and A beta 1-42 levels in 1998-1999 were associated with incident AD (n = 55) in 2002-2003 (longitudinal analysis). In the fully adjusted multivariate model, neither A beta 1-42 nor A beta 1-40 nor their ratio was associated with incident AD. However, adjustment had a very small effect on point estimates for A beta 1-42, from an odds ratio (OR) of 1.61 (p = 0.007) in the unadjusted model to an OR of 1.46 (p = 0.08) in the fully adjusted model. In 2002-2003 (cross-sectional analysis), only the unadjusted models showed that both peptides were associated with AD.


Plasma A beta levels are affected by age and by systemic and CNS vascular risk factors. After controlling for these conditions, A beta-40 and A beta 1-42 are weak predictors of conversion to Alzheimer disease (AD) in normal subjects and are only weakly associated with AD in cross-sectional analysis. Consequently, plasma levels of A beta do not seem to be useful biomarkers for AD.

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