Tau is better marker of progression to Alzheimer’s disease than amyloid beta

Scientists using a new PET imaging agent found that measures of tau protein in the brain more closely track cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s disease compared with long-studied measures of amyloid beta. Scanning multiple individuals the researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine showed that the intensity of tau deposits correlated with the severity of cognitive dysfunction.

 

Tau is better marker of progression to Alzheimer’s disease than amyloid beta
The Washington study using a new PET imaging agent shows that measures of tau protein in the brain more closely track cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s disease compared with long-studied measures of amyloid beta. More red color indicates more tau protein. The image on the left shows the average tau accumulation in the brains of cognitively normal people, averaged over many individuals. The image on the right shows the average amount of tau buildup in the brains of multiple people with mild Alzheimer’s symptoms. Scanning multiple individuals shows that the intensity of tau deposits correlates with the severity of cognitive dysfunction.
Credit: Matthew R. Brier

Tipping point
The study included 36 control participants who were cognitively normal and 10 patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease. While senior author Beau M. Ances, MD, PhD, an associate professor of neurology, called for larger follow-up studies, he said this analysis helped establish that the new tau agent (T807) is an important tool for understanding the timeline of Alzheimer’s progression and for defining which regions of the brain are involved. Ances: “Our new study suggests you can tolerate a certain amount of tau clumped in the hippocampus, but once it starts spreading into other areas, especially the lateral temporal and parietal lobes, that seems to be the tipping point.”

 

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Source: ScienceDaily, 11 May 2016

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