Cerebrospinal fluid neurogranin: relation to cognition and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease

Brain. 2015 Nov;138(Pt 11):3373-85. doi: 10.1093/brain/awv267. Epub 2015 Sep 15.


Synaptic dysfunction is linked to cognitive symptoms in Alzheimer's disease. Thus, measurement of synapse proteins in cerebrospinal fluid may be useful biomarkers to monitor synaptic degeneration. Cerebrospinal fluid levels of the postsynaptic protein neurogranin are increased in Alzheimer's disease, including in the predementia stage of the disease. Here, we tested the performance of cerebrospinal fluid neurogranin to predict cognitive decline and brain injury in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative study. An in-house immunoassay was used to analyse neurogranin in cerebrospinal fluid samples from a cohort of patients who at recruitment were diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease with dementia (n = 95) or mild cognitive impairment (n = 173), as well as in cognitively normal subjects (n = 110). Patients with mild cognitive impairment were grouped into those that remained cognitively stable for at least 2 years (stable mild cognitive impairment) and those who progressed to Alzheimer's disease dementia during follow-up (progressive mild cognitive impairment). Correlations were tested between baseline cerebrospinal fluid neurogranin levels and baseline and longitudinal cognitive impairment, brain atrophy and glucose metabolism within each diagnostic group. Cerebrospinal fluid neurogranin was increased in patients with Alzheimer's disease dementia (P < 0.001), progressive mild cognitive impairment (P < 0.001) and stable mild cognitive impairment (P < 0.05) compared with controls, and in Alzheimer's disease dementia (P < 0.01) and progressive mild cognitive impairment (P < 0.05) compared with stable mild cognitive impairment. In the mild cognitive impairment group, high baseline cerebrospinal fluid neurogranin levels predicted cognitive decline as reflected by decreased Mini-Mental State Examination (P < 0.001) and increased Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale (P < 0.001) scores at clinical follow-up. In addition, high baseline cerebrospinal fluid neurogranin levels in the mild cognitive impairment group correlated with longitudinal reductions in cortical glucose metabolism (P < 0.001) and hippocampal volume (P < 0.001) at clinical follow-up. Furthermore, within the progressive mild cognitive impairment group, elevated cerebrospinal fluid neurogranin levels were associated with accelerated deterioration in Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale (β = 0.0017, P = 0.01). These data demonstrate that cerebrospinal fluid neurogranin is increased already at the early clinical stage of Alzheimer's disease and predicts cognitive deterioration and disease-associated changes in metabolic and structural biomarkers over time.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; biomarker; cerebrospinal fluid; mild cognitive impairment; neurogranin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Cognition*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / pathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / diagnostic imaging
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurogranin / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Organ Size
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Prognosis


  • NRGN protein, human
  • Neurogranin