Introduction: This study aims to first discover plasma proteomic biomarkers relating to neurodegeneration (N) and vascular (V) damage in cognitively normal individuals and second to discover proteins mediating sex-related difference in N and V pathology.
Methods: Five thousand and thirty-two plasma proteins were measured in 1061 cognitively normal individuals (628 females and 433 males), nearly 90% of whom had magnetic resonance imaging measures of hippocampal volume (as N) and white matter hyperintensities (as V).
Results: Differential protein expression analysis and co-expression network analysis revealed different proteins and modules associated with N and V, respectively. Furthermore, causal mediation analysis revealed four proteins mediated sex-related difference in N and one protein mediated such difference in V damage.
Discussion: Once validated, the identified proteins could help to select cognitively normal individuals with N and V pathology for Alzheimer's disease clinical trials and provide targets for further mechanistic studies on brain sex differences, leading to sex-specific therapeutic strategies.
Keywords: mediation; neurodegeneration; plasma proteomics; sex‐related difference; vascular damage.
© 2021 The Authors. Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring published by Wiley Periodicals, LLC on behalf of Alzheimer's Association.