CSF biomarkers in Olmsted County: Evidence of 2 subclasses and associations with demographics

Neurology. 2020 Jul 21;95(3):e256-e267. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000009874. Epub 2020 Jun 26.


Objective: We studied interrelationships between CSF biomarkers and associations with APOE ε4 genotype, demographic variables, vascular variables, and clinical diagnosis in Olmsted County, Minnesota.

Methods: We included 774 Mayo Clinic Study of Aging participants (693 cognitively unimpaired [CU]; 71 with mild cognitive impairment [MCI]). CSF β-amyloid 42 (Aβ42), total tau (t-tau), and hyperphosphorylated tau (p-tau) were analyzed using Aβ42 CSF, t-tau CSF, and p-tau (181P) CSF electrochemiluminescence immunoassays. Bivariate mixture models were used to evaluate latent classes. We used linear regression models to evaluate independent associations of APOE ε4, demographic factors, cardiovascular risk, and diagnosis with CSF biomarker levels. Results were weighted back to the Olmsted County population.

Results: Interrelationships between CSF Aβ42 and p-tau/t-tau were consistent with 2 latent classes in the general population. In subgroup 1 (n = 547 [71%]), we found a strong positive correlation between Aβ42 and p-tau (ρ = 0.81), while the correlation was much smaller in group 2 (ρ = 0.26, n = 227 [29%]). Group 2 was associated with older age, APOE ε4 genotype, a diagnosis of MCI, and elevated amyloid PET. Overall, APOE ε4 genotype and MCI were associated with Aβ42, while age was associated with p-tau/t-tau. There were no associations with sex, education, or vascular risk.

Conclusion: We hypothesize the population without dementia can be subdivided into participants with and without biological Alzheimer disease (AD) based on the combination of CSF Aβ42 and p-tau/t-tau (represented also by the p-tau/t-tau/Aβ42 ratio). In those without biological AD, common factors such as CSF dynamics may cause a positive correlation between CSF Aβ42 and p-tau/t-tau, while AD leads to dissociation of these proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Aging / pathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / epidemiology
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Peptide Fragments / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Spinal Puncture / methods
  • tau Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid


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