Stable cerebrospinal fluid neurogranin and β-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 levels differentiate predementia Alzheimer's disease patients

Bjørn Eivind Kirsebom, Grit Richter, Kaja Nordengen, Dag Aarsland, Geir Bråthen, Betty M. Tijms, Pieter Jelle Visser, Johanna Nilsson, Per Selnes, Milica G. Kramberger, Bengt Winblad, Knut Waterloo, Berglind Gísladóttir, Kaj Blennow, Tormod Fladby

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Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) β-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1), neurogranin and the neurogranin/BACE1 ratio are proposed markers for Alzheimer's disease. BACE1 is also a drug target. However, CSF levels may differ between early-stage amyloid plaque formation (A) and later stage downstream tau-tangle pathology (T) and neurodegeneration (N) and may be expressed as an A/T/N stage (e.g. A+/T-/N or A+/T+/N+). Whether BACE1 and neurogranin levels are persistent traits or change with disease progression is unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate whether CSF neurogranin and BACE1 concentrations differ between A/T/N stages, whether these change over time and correlate with memory decline. This may have implications for patient selection in future trials. We used CSF markers to determine A/T/N stage using amyloid beta42/40 ratio, p-tau181 and total-tau respectively in predementia Alzheimer's disease cases (n = 176) [including cases that progressed to dementia (n = 10)] and controls (n = 74) from the Norwegian Dementia Disease Initiation cohort. We selected cases at the presumed early (A+/T-/N-, n = 86) and late stages (A+/T+/N+, n = 90) of the Alzheimer's disease continuum and controlled with normal markers (A-/T-/N-, n = 74). A subset of subjects in all A/T/N groups underwent repeat CSF sampling at approximately 2-year intervals up to 6 years from baseline. Using linear mixed models, longitudinal measurements of CSF BACE1 and neurogranin levels in A+/T-/N- and A+/T+/N+ as compared to A-/T-/N- healthy controls were performed. Next, we measured changes in CSF BACE1 and neurogranin levels in cases that progressed from A-/T-/N- to A+/T-/N- (n = 12), from A+/T-/N- to A+/T or N+ (n = 12), remained stable A+/T-/N- (n = 26), remained stable A+/T+/N+ (n = 28) compared with controls remaining stable A-/T-/N- (n = 33). Lastly, associations between these markers and memory decline were assessed. Compared with A-/T-/N- healthy controls, neurogranin was unaltered in A+/T-/N- (n.s.) but higher in A+/T+/N+ (P < 0.0001). In contrast, BACE1 was lower in A+/T-/N- (P < 0.05) and higher in A+/T+/N+ (P < 0.0001). The neurogranin/BACE1 ratio was increased in both A+/T-/N- (P < 0.05) and A+/T+/N+ (P < 0.0001) groups as compared to A-/T-/N- healthy controls and was more strongly associated with memory decline (b = -0.29, P = 0.0006) than neurogranin (b = -0.20, P = 0.002) and BACE1 (b = -0.13, P = 0.046). Neurogranin and BACE1 level differences remained stable over time not only within A/T/N groups but also in patients progressing to more pathological A/T/N stages (e.g. progressing from A+/T-/N- to A + T or N+) and in cases progressing to dementia. Our results suggest that neurogranin and BACE1 levels may differentiate pathomechanistic Alzheimer's disease subgroups, putatively with different options for treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfcac244
JournalBrain Communications
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • A/T/N
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • BACE1
  • neurogranin
  • synaptic loss

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