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Cerebrospinal fluid β-amyloid 1–42 concentration may predict cognitive decline in older women


Background: Low levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) β-amyloid 1–42 (Aβ42) and high total tau (T-tau) are diagnostic for manifest Alzheimer’s disease. It is not known, however, whether these biomarkers may be risk indicators for cognitive decline in otherwise healthy older people.

Methods: The longitudinal relationship between CSF markers, Aβ42 and T-tau, measured in 1992, and change in Mini-Mental State Examination (ΔMMSE) score between 1992 and 2002 were investigated in 55 women (aged 70–84 years, mean (SD) MMSE score = 28.3 (1.5)), who were participants in the Prospective Population Study of Women in Gothenburg, Sweden. These women did not have dementia when they experienced lumbar puncture in 1992–3.

Results: Over the 8-year follow-up period, ΔMMSE (range =  +3 to −21 points) was correlated with Aβ42 (Spearman’s r = 0.40, p = 0.002), such that lower levels of Aβ42 were related to greater decline. This was also observed after excluding 4 women who developed dementia between 1992 and 2002 (Spearman’s r = 0.34, p = 0.019). A multivariate logistic regression model predicting a decline of ⩾5 points on the MMSE (observed in six women), or a risk of developing dementia over the 8-year follow-up period (observed in four women), including age, education, Aβ42 and T-tau as covariates, showed that Aβ42 was the sole predictor of significant cognitive decline or dementia (OR per 100 pg/ml Aβ42 = 2.24, 95% CI 1.19 to 4.22, p = 0.013).

Conclusions: Low levels of CSF Aβ42 may predict cognitive decline among older women without dementia.

  • Aβ42, β-amyloid 1–42
  • AD, Alzheimer’s disease
  • CSF, cerebrospinal fluid
  • LP, lumbar puncture
  • MCI, mild cognitive impairment
  • MMSE, Mini-Mental State Examination
  • T-tau, total tau

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