Intermediate flortaucipir uptake is associated with Aβ-PET and CSF tau in asymptomatic adults

Neurology. 2020 Mar 17;94(11):e1190-e1200. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000008905. Epub 2020 Feb 3.


Objective: To investigate relationships between flortaucipir (FTP) uptake, age, and established Alzheimer disease (AD) markers in asymptomatic adults at increased risk of AD.

Methods: One-hundred nineteen individuals with a family history of AD (Presymptomatic Evaluation of Experimental or Novel Treatments of Alzheimer's Disease [PREVENT-AD] cohort, mean age 67 ± 5 years) underwent tau-PET ([18F]FTP), β-amyloid (Aβ)-PET ([18F]NAV4694 [NAV]), and cognitive assessment. Seventy-four participants also had CSF phosphorylated tau and total tau data available. We investigated the association between age and FTP in this relatively young cohort of older adults. We also investigated regional FTP standardized uptake value ratio (SUVR) differences between Aβ-positive and Aβ-negative individuals and regional correlations between FTP and NAV retention. In cortical regions showing consistent associations across analyses, we assessed whether FTP was in addition related to CSF tau and cognitive performance. Lastly, we identified the lowest FTP value at which associations with Aβ-PET, CSF, and cognition were detectable.

Results: Increased age was associated only with amygdala and transverse temporal lobe FTP retention. Aβ-positive individuals had higher FTP SUVR values in several brain regions, further showing correlation with NAV load through the cortex. Increased FTP SUVRs in medial temporal regions were associated with increased CSF tau values and worse cognition. The SUVRs at which associations between entorhinal FTP SUVR and other AD markers were first detected differed by modality, with a detection point of 1.12 for CSF values, 1.2 for Aβ-PET, and 1.4 for cognition.

Conclusions: Relatively low FTP-PET SUVRs are associated with pathologic markers of AD in the preclinical phase of the disease. Adjustment in the tau threshold should be considered, depending on the purpose of the tau classification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Carbolines
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • tau Proteins / analysis*
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Carbolines
  • MAPT protein, human
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • tau Proteins
  • 7-(6-fluoropyridin-3-yl)-5H-pyrido(4,3-b)indole