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Peripheral inflammatory biomarkers predict the deposition and progression of amyloid-β in cognitively unimpaired older adults

Oberlin, L.E., Erickson, K.I., Mackey, R., Klunk, W.E., Aizenstein, H., Lopresti, B.J., Kuller, L.H., Lopez, O.L. and Snitz, B.E. (2021) Peripheral inflammatory biomarkers predict the deposition and progression of amyloid-β in cognitively unimpaired older adults. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity . In Press.

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Systemic inflammation has been increasingly implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), yet the mechanistic and temporal specificity of this relationship is poorly understood. We aimed to characterize the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between peripheral inflammatory biomarkers, cognition, and Aβ deposition in oldest-old cognitively unimpaired (CU) adults.


A large sample of 139 CU older adults (mean age (range) = 85.4 (82–95)) underwent neuropsychological testing, Pittsburgh compound-B (PiB)-PET imaging and structural MRI. Hierarchical regression models examined associations between circulating inflammatory biomarkers (Interleukin-6 (IL-6), soluble Tumor Necrosis Factor receptors 1 and 2 (sTNFr1 and sTNFr2), soluble cluster of differentiation 14 (sCD14), C-reactive protein (CRP)), cognition, and global and regional Aβ deposition at baseline and over follow-up. Indices of preclinical disease, including pathologic Aβ status and hippocampal volume, were incorporated to assess conditional associations.


At baseline evaluation, higher concentrations of IL-6 and sTNFr2 were associated with greater global Aβ burden in those with lower hippocampal volume. In longitudinal models, IL-6 predicted subsequent conversion to MCI and both IL-6 and CRP predicted greater change in global and regional Aβ deposition specifically among participants PiB-positive at baseline. These relationships withstood adjustment for demographic factors, anti-hypertensive medication use, history of diabetes, heart disease, APOE ε4 carrier status, and white matter lesions.


In a large prospective sample of CU adults aged 80 and over, peripheral inflammatory biomarkers were associated with and predictive of the progression of Aβ deposition. This was specific to those with biomarker evidence of preclinical AD at baseline, supporting recent evidence of disease-state-dependent differences in inflammatory expression profiles. Chronic, low-level systemic inflammation may exacerbate the deposition of Aβ pathology among those with emerging disease processes, and place individuals at a higher risk of developing clinically significant cognitive impairment.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2021 Elsevier Inc.
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