Amyloid and tau accumulate across distinct spatial networks and are differentially associated with brain connectivity

Elife. 2019 Dec 9;8:e50830. doi: 10.7554/eLife.50830.


The abnormal accumulation of amyloid-β and tau targets specific spatial networks in Alzheimer's disease. However, the relationship between these networks across different disease stages and their association with brain connectivity has not been explored. In this study, we applied a joint independent component analysis to 18F- Flutemetamol (amyloid-β) and 18F-Flortaucipir (tau) PET images to identify amyloid-β and tau networks across different stages of Alzheimer's disease. We then assessed whether these patterns were associated with resting-state functional networks and white matter tracts. Our analyses revealed nine patterns that were linked across tau and amyloid-β data. The amyloid-β and tau patterns showed a fair to moderate overlap with distinct functional networks but only tau was associated with white matter integrity loss and multiple cognitive functions. These findings show that amyloid-β and tau have different spatial affinities, which can be used to understand how they accumulate in the brain and potentially damage the brain's connections.

Keywords: alzheimer's disease; amyloid; cognition; human; neuroscience; resting-state functional networks; tau; white matter tracts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / pathology*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • tau Proteins