Amyloid biomarkers in Alzheimer's disease

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2015 May;36(5):297-309. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2015 Apr 1.


Aggregation of amyloid-β (Aβ) into oligomers, fibrils, and plaques is central in the molecular pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD), and is the main focus of AD drug development. Biomarkers to monitor Aβ metabolism and aggregation directly in patients are important for further detailed study of the involvement of Aβ in disease pathogenesis and to monitor the biochemical effect of drugs targeting Aβ in clinical trials. Furthermore, if anti-Aβ disease-modifying drugs prove to be effective clinically, amyloid biomarkers will be of special value in the clinic to identify patients with brain amyloid deposition at risk for progression to AD dementia, to enable initiation of treatment before neurodegeneration is too severe, and to monitor drug effects on Aβ metabolism or pathology to guide dosage. Two types of amyloid biomarker have been developed: Aβ-binding ligands for use in positron emission tomography (PET) and assays to measure Aβ42 in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In this review, we present the rationales behind these biomarkers and compare their ability to measure Aβ plaque load in the brain. We also review possible shortcomings and the need of standardization of both biomarkers, as well as their implementation in the clinic.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; biomarker; cerebrospinal fluid; positron emission tomography (PET); β-amyloid (Aβ).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / standards
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Humans
  • Peptide Fragments / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Peptide Fragments / standards
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / standards*
  • Reference Standards


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Biomarkers
  • Peptide Fragments
  • amyloid beta-protein (1-42)