Cerebral tau pathology in cerebral amyloid angiopathy

Brain Commun. 2024 Mar 12;6(2):fcae086. doi: 10.1093/braincomms/fcae086. eCollection 2024.


Tau, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, is poorly characterized in cerebral amyloid angiopathy. We aimed to assess the clinico-radiological correlations between tau positron emission tomography scans and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. We assessed cerebral amyloid and hyperphosphorylated tau in patients with probable cerebral amyloid angiopathy (n = 31) and hypertensive small vessel disease (n = 27) using 11C-Pittsburgh compound B and 18F-T807 positron emission tomography. Multivariable regression models were employed to assess radio-clinical features related to cerebral tau pathology in cerebral amyloid angiopathy. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy exhibited a higher cerebral tau burden in the inferior temporal lobe [1.25 (1.17-1.42) versus 1.08 (1.05-1.22), P < 0.001] and all Braak stage regions of interest (P < 0.05) than hypertensive small vessel disease, although the differences were attenuated after age adjustment. Cerebral tau pathology was significantly associated with cerebral amyloid angiopathy-related vascular markers, including cortical superficial siderosis (β = 0.12, 95% confidence interval 0.04-0.21) and cerebral amyloid angiopathy score (β = 0.12, 95% confidence interval 0.03-0.21) after adjustment for age, ApoE4 status and whole cortex amyloid load. Tau pathology correlated significantly with cognitive score (Spearman's ρ=-0.56, P = 0.001) and hippocampal volume (-0.49, P = 0.007), even after adjustment. In conclusion, tau pathology is more frequent in sporadic cerebral amyloid angiopathy than in hypertensive small vessel disease. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy-related vascular pathologies, especially cortical superficial siderosis, are potential markers of cerebral tau pathology suggestive of concomitant Alzheimer's disease.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; cerebral amyloid angiopathy; cortical superficial siderosis; intracerebral haemorrhage; small vessel disease.