Background: There is a need for novel fluid biomarkers tracking neuroinflammatory responses in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Our recent cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) proteomics study revealed that migration inhibitory factor (MIF) and soluble triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 1 (sTREM1) increased along the AD continuum. We aimed to assess the potential use of these proteins, in addition to sTREM2, as CSF biomarkers to monitor inflammatory processes in AD. Methods: We included cognitively unimpaired controls (n = 67, 63 ± 9 years, 24% females, all amyloid negative), patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI; n = 92, 65 ± 7 years, 47% females, 65% amyloid positive), AD (n = 38, 67 ± 6 years, 8% females, all amyloid positive), and DLB (n = 50, 67 ± 6 years, 5% females, 54% amyloid positive). MIF, sTREM1, and sTREM2 levels were measured by validated immunoassays. Differences in protein levels between groups were tested with analysis of covariance (corrected for age and sex). Spearman correlation analysis was performed to evaluate the association between these neuroinflammatory markers with AD-CSF biomarkers (Aβ42, tTau, pTau) and mini-mental state examination (MMSE) scores. Results: MIF levels were increased in MCI (p < 0.01), AD (p < 0.05), and DLB (p > 0.05) compared to controls. Levels of sTREM1 were specifically increased in AD compared to controls (p < 0.01), MCI (p < 0.05), and DLB patients (p > 0.05), while sTREM2 levels were increased specifically in MCI compared to all other groups (all p < 0.001). Neuroinflammatory proteins were highly correlated with CSF pTau levels (MIF: all groups; sTREM1: MCI, AD and DLB; sTREM2: controls, MCI and DLB). Correlations with MMSE scores were observed in specific clinical groups (MIF in controls, sTREM1 in AD, and sTREM2 in DLB). Conclusion: Inflammatory-related proteins show diverse expression profiles along different AD stages, with increased protein levels in the MCI stage (MIF and sTREM2) and AD stage (MIF and sTREM1). The associations of these inflammatory markers primarily with CSF pTau levels indicate an intertwined relationship between tau pathology and inflammation. These neuroinflammatory markers might be useful in clinical trials to capture dynamics in inflammatory responses or monitor drug–target engagement of inflammatory modulators.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107
JournalJournal of neuroinflammation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • CSF
  • Neuroinflammation

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