Plasma glial fibrillary acidic protein in autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease: Associations with Aβ-PET, neurodegeneration, and cognition

Alzheimers Dement. 2023 Jul;19(7):2790-2804. doi: 10.1002/alz.12879. Epub 2022 Dec 28.


Background: Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) is a promising candidate blood-based biomarker for Alzheimer's disease (AD) diagnosis and prognostication. The timing of its disease-associated changes, its clinical correlates, and biofluid-type dependency will influence its clinical utility.

Methods: We evaluated plasma, serum, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) GFAP in families with autosomal dominant AD (ADAD), leveraging the predictable age at symptom onset to determine changes by stage of disease.

Results: Plasma GFAP elevations appear a decade before expected symptom onset, after amyloid beta (Aβ) accumulation and prior to neurodegeneration and cognitive decline. Plasma GFAP distinguished Aβ-positive from Aβ-negative ADAD participants and showed a stronger relationship with Aβ load in asymptomatic than symptomatic ADAD. Higher plasma GFAP was associated with the degree and rate of neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment. Serum GFAP showed similar relationships, but these were less pronounced for CSF GFAP.

Conclusion: Our findings support a role for plasma GFAP as a clinical biomarker of Aβ-related astrocyte reactivity that is associated with cognitive decline and neurodegeneration.

Highlights: Plasma glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) elevations appear a decade before expected symptom onset in autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease (ADAD). Plasma GFAP was associated to amyloid positivity in asymptomatic ADAD. Plasma GFAP increased with clinical severity and predicted disease progression. Plasma and serum GFAP carried similar information in ADAD, while cerebrospinal fluid GFAP did not.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cognition
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Humans
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • tau Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Biomarkers
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • tau Proteins