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J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2009 Mar;34(2):136-42.

Association of total tau and phosphorylated tau 181 protein levels in cerebrospinal fluid with cerebral atrophy in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease.

Author information

1
Section of Geriatric Psychiatry, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany. philipp_thomann@med.uni-heidelberg.de

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

We sought to examine the association of levels of total tau (t-tau) and phosphorylated tau 181 (p-tau181) protein with brain morphology in mild cognitive impairment, as defined by the concept of aging-associated cognitive decline (AACD) and Alzheimer disease.

METHODS:

Twenty-three participants with AACD, 16 with Alzheimer disease and 15 healthy controls underwent magnetic resonance imaging and lumbar puncture. We performed voxel-based morphometry to investigate the association between tau levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and cerebral grey matter density throughout the entire brain.

RESULTS:

Voxel-based morphometry revealed that both elevated t-tau and p-tau181 concentrations were associated with reduced grey matter density in temporal, parietal and frontal regions. Among participants with AACD, elevated levels of p-tau181 (but not t-tau) in CSF were correlated with a pronounced atrophy in the right hippocampus.

LIMITATIONS:

Our study was limited by the small sample, especially with respect to the analysis comprising the AACD subgroups. Moreover, we did not correct our voxel-based morphometry analyses for multiple dependent comparisons, therefore they harbour a risk of false-positive results.

CONCLUSION:

Elevated levels of t-tau and p-tau181 in CSF reflect degenerative processes in the cortical regions typically affected in Alzheimer disease. Our findings in participants with AACD support the hypothesis that p-tau181 might be more specifically related to neurodegenerative changes in early Alzheimer disease.

PMID:
19270764
PMCID:
PMC2647572
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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