Cerebral amyloid angiopathy interacts with neuritic amyloid plaques to promote tau and cognitive decline

Jennifer S. Rabin, Emma Nichols, Renaud La Joie, Kaitlin B. Casaletto, Priya Palta, Kristen Dams-O'Connor, Raj G. Kumar, Kristen M. George, Claudia L. Satizabal, Julie A. Schneider, Judy Pa, Adam M. Brickman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Accumulating data suggest that cerebrovascular disease contributes to Alzheimer's disease pathophysiology and progression toward dementia. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy is a form of cerebrovascular pathology that results from the build-up of β-amyloid in the vessel walls. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy commonly co-occurs with Alzheimer's disease pathology in the ageing brain and increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease dementia. In the present study, we examined whether cerebral amyloid angiopathy influences tau deposition and cognitive decline independently or synergistically with parenchymal β-amyloid burden. Secondly, we examined whether tau burden mediates the association between cerebral amyloid angiopathy and cognitive decline. We included data from autopsied subjects recruited from one of three longitudinal clinical-pathological cohort studies: the Rush Memory and Aging Project, the Religious Orders Study and the Minority Aging Research Study. Participants completed annual clinical and cognitive evaluations and underwent brain autopsy. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy pathology was rated as none, mild, moderate or severe. Bielschowsky silver stain was used to visualize neuritic β-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. We used linear regression and linear mixed models to test independent versus interactive associations of cerebral amyloid angiopathy and neuritic plaque burden with tau burden and longitudinal cognitive decline, respectively. We used causal mediation models to examine whether tau mediates the association between cerebral amyloid angiopathy and cognitive decline. The study sample included 1722 autopsied subjects (age at baseline = 80.2 ± 7.1 years; age at death = 89.5 ± 6.7 years; 68% females). Cerebral amyloid angiopathy interacted with neuritic plaques to accelerate tau burden and cognitive decline. Specifically, those with more severe cerebral amyloid angiopathy pathology and higher levels of neuritic plaque burden had greater tau burden and faster cognitive decline. We also found that tau mediated the association between cerebral amyloid angiopathy and cognitive decline among participants with higher neuritic plaque burden. In summary, more severe levels of cerebral amyloid angiopathy and higher parenchymal β-amyloid burden interacted to promote cognitive decline indirectly via tau deposition. These results highlight the dynamic interplay between cerebral amyloid angiopathy and Alzheimer's disease pathology in accelerating progression toward dementia. These findings have implications for Alzheimer's disease clinical trials and therapeutic development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2823-2833
Number of pages11
JournalBrain : a journal of neurology
Volume145
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 27 2022

Keywords

  • cerebral amyloid angiopathy
  • cognitive decline
  • neuropathology
  • tau
  • β-amyloid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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