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Are neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia linked to CSF biomarkers of synaptic and axonal degeneration?

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Victor Bloniecki, Henrik Zetterberg, Dag Aarsland, Patrizia Vannini, Hlin Kvartsberg, Bengt Winblad, Kaj Blennow, Yvonne Freund-Levi

Original languageEnglish
Article number153
JournalAlzheimer's Research and Therapy
Issue number1
PublishedDec 2020

King's Authors


Background: The underlying disease mechanism of neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) in dementia remains unclear. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers for synaptic and axonal degeneration may provide novel neuropathological information for their occurrence. The aim was to investigate the relationship between NPS and CSF biomarkers for synaptic (neurogranin [Ng], growth-associated protein 43 [GAP-43]) and axonal (neurofilament light [NFL]) injury in patients with dementia. Methods: A total of 151 patients (mean age ± SD, 73.5 ± 11.0, females n = 92 [61%]) were included, of which 64 had Alzheimer’s disease (AD) (34 with high NPS, i.e., Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) score > 10 and 30 with low levels of NPS) and 18 were diagnosed with vascular dementia (VaD), 27 with mixed dementia (MIX), 12 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 30 with subjective cognitive impairment (SCI). NPS were primarily assessed using the NPI. CSF samples were analyzed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) for T-tau, P-tau, Aβ1–42, Ng, NFL, and GAP-43. Results: No significant differences were seen in the CSF levels of Ng, GAP-43, and NFL between AD patients with high vs low levels of NPS (but almost significantly decreased for Ng in AD patients < 70 years with high NPS, p = 0.06). No significant associations between NPS and CSF biomarkers were seen in AD patients. In VaD (n = 17), negative correlations were found between GAP-43, Ng, NFL, and NPS. Conclusion: Our results could suggest that low levels of Ng may be associated with higher severity of NPS early in the AD continuum (age < 70). Furthermore, our data may indicate a potential relationship between the presence of NPS and synaptic as well as axonal degeneration in the setting of VaD pathology.

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