Background: Plasma amyloid-β (Aβ) levels are increasingly studied as a potential accessible marker of cognitive impairment and dementia. However, it remains underexplored whether plasma Aβ levels including the novel Aβ peptide 1-38 (Aβ1-38) relate to preclinical markers of neurodegeneration and risk of dementia. We investigated the association of plasma Aβ1-38, Aβ1-40, and Aβ1-42 levels with imaging markers of neurodegeneration and risk of dementia in a prospective population-based study. Methods: We analyzed plasma Aβ levels in 458 individuals from the Rotterdam Study. Brain volumes, including gray matter, white matter, and hippocampus, were computed on the basis of 1.5-T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Dementia and its subtypes were defined on the basis of internationally accepted criteria. Results: A total of 458 individuals (mean age, 67.8 ± 7.7 yr; 232 [50.7%] women) with baseline MRI scans and incident dementia were included. The mean ± SD values of Aβ1-38, Aβ1-40, and Aβ1-42 (in pg/ml) were 19.4 ± 4.3, 186.1 ± 35.9, and 56.3 ± 6.2, respectively, at baseline. Lower plasma Aβ1-42 levels were associated with smaller hippocampal volume (mean difference in hippocampal volume per SD decrease in Aβ1-42 levels, - 0.13; 95% CI, - 0.23 to - 0.04; p = 0.007). After a mean follow-up of 14.8 years (SD, 4.9; range, 4.1-23.5 yr), 79 persons developed dementia, 64 of whom were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Lower levels of Aβ1-38 and Aβ1-42 were associated with increased risk of dementia, specifically AD (HR for AD per SD decrease in Aβ1-38 levels, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.00-2.16; HR for AD per SD decrease in Aβ1-42 levels, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.05-1.75) after adjustment for age, sex, education, cardiovascular risk factors, apolipoprotein E ϵ4 allele carrier status, and other Aβ isoforms. Conclusions: Our results show that lower plasma Aβ levels were associated with risk of dementia and incident AD. Moreover, lower plasma Aβ1-42 levels were related to smaller hippocampal volume. These results suggest that plasma Aβ1-38 and Aβ1-42 maybe useful biomarkers for identification of individuals at risk of dementia.

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Alzheimer's Research and Therapy
Department of Radiology

Hilal, S., Wolters, F., Verbeek, M., Vanderstichele, H., Ikram, K., Stoops, E. (Erik), … Vernooij, M. (2018). Plasma amyloid-β levels, cerebral atrophy and risk of dementia: A population-based study. Alzheimer's Research and Therapy, 10(1). doi:10.1186/s13195-018-0395-6