Heterogeneous distribution of tau pathology in the behavioural variant of Alzheimers disease

Objective

The clinical phenotype of the rare behavioural variant of Alzheimer’s disease (bvAD) is insufficiently understood. Given the strong clinico-anatomical correlations of tau pathology in AD, we investigated the distribution of tau deposits in bvAD, in-vivo and ex-vivo, using positron emission tomography (PET) and postmortem examination.

Methods

For the tau PET study, seven amyloid-β positive bvAD patients underwent [18F]flortaucipir or [18F]RO948 PET. We converted tau PET uptake values into standardised (W-)scores, adjusting for age, sex and mini mental state examination in a ‘typical’ memory-predominant AD (n=205) group. W-scores were computed within entorhinal, temporoparietal, medial and lateral prefrontal, insular and whole-brain regions-of-interest, frontal-to-entorhinal and frontal-to-parietal ratios and within intrinsic functional connectivity network templates. For the postmortem study, the percentage of AT8 (tau)-positive area in hippocampus CA1, temporal, parietal, frontal and insular cortices were compared between autopsy-confirmed patients with bvAD (n=8) and typical AD (tAD;n=7).

Results

Individual regional W-scores ≥1.96 (corresponding to p0.05).

Conclusions

Both in-vivo and ex-vivo, patients with bvAD showed heterogeneous distributions of tau pathology. Since key regions involved in behavioural regulation were not consistently disproportionally affected by tau pathology, other factors are more likely driving the clinical phenotype in bvAD.

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