Background and purposeAmong cognitively healthy older individuals, the relationship among the 2 hallmark proteins of AD (Aβ and τ APOE ε4) and neurodegeneration is not well-understood. Here, we investigated the relationship between Aβ, p-τ, and APOE ε4 on longitudinal brain atrophy in preclinical AD.
Materials and methodsWe examined 107 cognitively healthy older adults who underwent longitudinal MR imaging and baseline lumbar puncture. Within the same linear mixed-effects model, we concurrently investigated main and interactive effects between the APOE ε4 genotype and CSF Aβ(1-42), CSF p-τ and CSF Aβ(1-42), and the APOE ε4 genotype and CSF p-τ on entorhinal cortex atrophy rate. We also examined the relationship of APOE ε4, CSF p-τ, and CSF Aβ(1-42) on the atrophy rate of other AD-vulnerable neuroanatomic regions.
ResultsThe full model with main and interactive effects demonstrated a significant interaction only between CSF p-τ and CSF Aβ(1-42) on entorhinal cortex atrophy rate, indicating elevated atrophy with time in individuals with increased CSF p-τ and decreased CSF Aβ(1-42). The APOE ε4 genotype was significantly and specifically associated with CSF Aβ(1-42). However, the interaction between the APOE ε4 genotype and either CSF Aβ(1-42) or CSF p-τ on entorhinal cortex atrophy rate was not significant. We found similar results in other AD-vulnerable regions.
ConclusionsOn the basis of our findings and building on prior experimental evidence, we propose a model of the pathogenic cascade underlying preclinical AD in which APOE ε4 primarily influences the pathology of Alzheimer disease via Aβ-related mechanisms, and in turn, Aβ-associated neurodegeneration occurs only in the presence of p-τ.