Challenges associated with biomarker-based classification systems for Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2018 Apr 21;10:346-357. doi: 10.1016/j.dadm.2018.03.004. eCollection 2018.


Introduction: We aimed to evaluate the consistency of the A/T/N classification system.

Methods: We included healthy controls, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia patients from Alzheimer's disease Neuroimaging Initiative. We assessed subject classification consistency with different biomarker combinations and the agreement and correlation between biomarkers.

Results: Subject classification discordance ranged from 12.2% to 44.5% in the whole sample; 17.3%-46.4% in healthy controls; 11.9%-46.5% in mild cognitive impairment, and 1%-35.7% in dementia patients. Amyloid, but not neurodegeneration biomarkers, showed good agreement both in the whole sample and in the clinical subgroups. Amyloid biomarkers were correlated in the whole sample, but not along the Alzheimer's disease continuum (as defined by a positive amyloid positron emission tomography). Neurodegeneration biomarkers were poorly correlated both in the whole sample and along the Alzheimer's disease continuum. The relationship between biomarkers was stage-dependent.

Discussion: Our findings suggest that the current A/T/N classification system does not achieve the required consistency to be used in the clinical setting.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Biomarkers; Classification systems; Diagnosis; Magnetic resonance; Positron emission tomography.