Detection of Brain Tau Pathology in Down Syndrome Using Plasma Biomarkers.

Janelidze, ShorenaChristian, Bradley TPrice, JulieLaymon, CharlesSchupf, NicoleKlunk, William ELott, IraSilverman, WayneRosas, H DianaZaman, ShahidMapstone, MarkLai, FlorenceAnces, Beau MHanden, Benjamin LHansson, Oskar


Novel plasma biomarkers, especially phosphorylated tau (p-tau), can detect brain tau aggregates in Alzheimer disease. To determine which plasma biomarker combinations can accurately detect tau pathological brain changes in Down syndrome (DS). The cross-sectional, multicenter Alzheimer's Biomarker Consortium-Down Syndrome study included adults with DS and a control group of siblings without DS. All participants with plasma, positron emission tomography (PET), and cognitive measures available by the time of data freeze 1.0 were included. Participants were enrolled between 2016 and 2019, and data were analyzed from August 2021 to April 2022. Plasma p-tau217, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), amyloid β42/40 (Aβ42/Aβ40), neurofilament light (NfL), and total tau (t-tau); tau positron emission tomography (tau-PET) and Aβ-PET. The primary outcome was tau-PET status. Secondary outcomes included Aβ-PET status and cognitive performance. Among 300 participants with DS and a control group of 37 non-DS siblings, mean (SD) age was 45.0 (10.1) years, and 167 (49.6%) were men. Among participants with DS who all underwent plasma p-tau217 and GFAP analyses, 258 had other plasma biomarker data available and 119, 213, and 288 participants had tau-PET, Aβ-PET, and cognitive assessments, respectively. Plasma p-tau217 and t-tau were significantly increased in Aβ-PET-positive tau-PET-positive (A+T+) DS and A+T- DS compared with A-T- DS while GFAP was only increased in A+T+ DS. Plasma p-tau217 levels were also significantly higher in A+T+ DS than A+T- DS. In participants with DS, plasma p-tau217 and GFAP (but not other plasma biomarkers) were consistently associated with abnormal tau-PET and Aβ-PET status in models covaried for age (odds ratio range, 1.59 [95% CI, 1.05-2.40] to 2.32 [95% CI, 1.36-3.96]; P < .03). A combination of p-tau217 and age performed best when detecting tau-PET abnormality in temporal and neocortical regions (area under the curve [AUC] range, 0.96-0.99). The most parsimonious model for Aβ-PET status included p-tau217, t-tau, and age (AUC range, 0.93-0.95). In multivariable models, higher p-tau217 levels but not other biomarkers were associated with worse performance on DS Mental Status Examination (β, -0.24, 95% CI, -0.36 to -0.12; P < .001) and Cued Recall Test (β, -0.40; 95% CI, -0.53 to -0.26; P < .001). Plasma p-tau217 is a very accurate blood-based biomarker of both tau and Aβ pathological brain changes in DS that could help guide screening and enrichment strategies for inclusion of individuals with DS in future AD clinical trials, especially when it is combined with age as a covariate.


Alzheimer Disease, Cognitive Dysfunction