CNS tau efflux via exosomes is likely increased in Parkinson's disease but not in Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimers Dement. 2016 Nov;12(11):1125-1131. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2016.04.003. Epub 2016 May 24.


Introduction: Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD) involve tau pathology. Tau is detectable in blood, but its clearance from neuronal cells and the brain is poorly understood.

Methods: Tau efflux from the brain to the blood was evaluated by administering radioactively labeled and unlabeled tau intracerebroventricularly in wild-type and tau knock-out mice, respectively. Central nervous system (CNS)-derived tau in L1CAM-containing exosomes was further characterized extensively in human plasma, including by single molecule array technology with 303 subjects.

Results: The efflux of Tau, including a fraction via CNS-derived L1CAM exosomes, was observed in mice. In human plasma, tau was explicitly identified within L1CAM exosomes. In contrast to AD patients, L1CAM exosomal tau was significantly higher in PD patients than controls and correlated with cerebrospinal fluid tau.

Conclusions: Tau is readily transported from the brain to the blood. The mechanisms of CNS tau efflux are likely different between AD and PD.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Biomarkers; Blood plasma; Central nervous system protein efflux; Central nervous system-derived exosomes; Parkinson's disease; Tau.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • 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

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule L1 / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • tau Proteins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • MAPT protein, human
  • Mapt protein, mouse
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule L1
  • tau Proteins