Relevance of the interplay between amyloid and tau for cognitive impairment in early Alzheimer's disease

Neurobiol Aging. 2019 Jul;79:131-141. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2019.03.016. Epub 2019 Apr 1.


Amyloid β (Aβ) and tau are key hallmark features of Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathology. The interplay of Aβ and tau for cognitive impairment in early AD was examined with cross-sectional analysis, measured by cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers (Aβ1-42, total tau [t-tau], and phosphorylated tau [p-tau181P]), and on cognitive performance by the repeatable battery for assessment of neuropsychological status (RBANS). Participants (n = 246) included cognitively normal (Aβ-), mild cognitively impaired (Aβ-), preclinical AD (Aβ+), and prodromal AD (Aβ+). Overall, cognitive scores (RBANS total scale score) had a moderate negative correlation to t-tau (n = 246; r = -0.434; p < 0.001) and p-tau181P (r = -0.389; p < 0.001). When classified by Aβ status, this correlation to t-tau was applicable only in Aβ+ participants (n = 139; r = -0.451, p < 0.001) but not Aβ- participants (n = 107; r = 0.137, p = 0.16), with identical findings for p-tau. Both tau (p < 0.0001) and interaction of Aβ1-42 with tau (p = 0.006) affected RBANS, but not Aβ1-42 alone. Cognitive/memory performance correlated well with cerebrospinal fluid tau levels across early stages of AD, although the correlation is Aβ dependent.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid; Cognition; Interaction; RBANS; Tau.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cognition*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Peptide Fragments / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • tau Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid*


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