Background: We classified non-demented European Prevention of Alzheimer's Dementia (EPAD) participants through the amyloid/tau/neurodegeneration (ATN) scheme and assessed their neuropsychological and imaging profiles.
Materials and methods: From 1500 EPAD participants, 312 were excluded. Cerebrospinal fluid cut-offs of 1000 pg/mL for amyloid beta (Aß)1-42 and 27 pg/mL for p-tau181 were validated using Gaussian mixture models. Given strong correlation of p-tau and t-tau (R2 = 0.98, P < 0.001), neurodegeneration was defined by age-adjusted hippocampal volume. Multinomial regressions were used to test whether neuropsychological tests and regional brain volumes could distinguish ATN stages.
Results: Age was 65 ± 7 years, with 58% females and 38% apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 carriers; 57.1% were A-T-N-, 32.5% were in the Alzheimer's disease (AD) continuum, and 10.4% suspected non-Alzheimer's pathology. Age and cerebrovascular burden progressed with biomarker positivity (P < 0.001). Cognitive dysfunction appeared with T+. Paradoxically higher regional gray matter volumes were observed in A+T-N- compared to A-T-N- (P < 0.001).
Discussion: In non-demented individuals along the AD continuum, p-tau drives cognitive dysfunction. Memory and language domains are affected in the earliest stages.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease (AD); European Prevention of Alzheimer's Dementia (EPAD); amyloid beta; amyloid/tau/neurodegeneration (ATN) staging; cognition; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); neurodegeneration; neuroimaging; tau.
© 2021 The Authors. Alzheimer's & Dementia published by Wiley Periodicals, LLC on behalf of Alzheimer's Association.