Differential levels of plasma biomarkers of neurodegeneration in Lewy body dementia, Alzheimers disease, frontotemporal dementia and progressive supranuclear palsy


This longitudinal study compared emerging plasma biomarkers for neurodegenerative disease between controls, patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Lewy body dementia (LBD), frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).


Plasma phosphorylated tau at threonine-181 (p-tau181), amyloid beta (Aβ)42, Aβ40, neurofilament light (NfL) and glial fibrillar acidic protein (GFAP) were measured using highly sensitive single molecule immunoassays (Simoa) in a multicentre cohort of 300 participants (controls=73, amyloid positive mild cognitive impairment (MCI+) and AD dementia=63, LBD=117, FTD=28, PSP=19). LBD participants had known positron emission tomography (PET)-Aβ status.


P-tau181 was elevated in MCI+AD compared with all other groups. Aβ42/40 was lower in MCI+AD compared with controls and FTD. NfL was elevated in all dementias compared with controls while GFAP was elevated in MCI+AD and LBD. Plasma biomarkers could classify between MCI+AD and controls, FTD and PSP with high accuracy but showed limited ability in differentiating MCI+AD from LBD. No differences were detected in the levels of plasma biomarkers when comparing PET-Aβ positive and negative LBD. P-tau181, NfL and GFAP were associated with baseline and longitudinal cognitive decline in a disease specific pattern.


This large study shows the role of plasma biomarkers in differentiating patients with different dementias, and at monitoring longitudinal change. We confirm that p-tau181 is elevated in MCI+AD, versus controls, FTD and PSP, but is less accurate in the classification between MCI+AD and LBD or detecting amyloid brain pathology in LBD. NfL was elevated in all dementia groups, while GFAP was elevated in MCI+AD and LBD.

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