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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Sep 16;105(37):14052-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0805902105. Epub 2008 Sep 8.

Peripheral Abeta subspecies as risk biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Plasma Abeta42 and Abeta40 levels are putative biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease (AD), but their significance and predictive value have been inconclusive. In AD transgenic models, plasma and cerebrospinal fluid levels of Abeta42 and Abeta40 increase with age but subsequently decrease when Abeta begins to accumulate in brain and with the onset of cognitive impairment. To determine the predictive value of Abeta levels in elderly populations, we investigated how plasma Abeta42, Abeta40, and a protofibrillar subspecies of Abeta42 changed over time and with the onset of cognitive impairment or AD. In a cohort of 1,125 elderly persons without dementia, 104 (9.2%) of the participants developed AD over 4.6 years of follow-up. Higher plasma Abeta42 levels at the onset of the study were associated with a threefold increased risk of AD. However, conversion to AD was accompanied by a significant decline in plasma Abeta42, a decreased Abeta42/Abeta40 ratio and, with the onset of cognitive impairment, decreased protofibrillar Abeta42 levels. Our results suggest individuals with elevated plasma Abeta42 are at increased risk of AD and that with the onset of disease, the decline in some forms of Abeta may reflect compartmentalization of Abeta peptides in the brain.

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