Association of CSF GAP-43 With the Rate of Cognitive Decline and Progression to Dementia in Amyloid-Positive Individuals

Annika Öhrfelt, Andréa L Benedet, Nicholas J Ashton, Hlin Kvartsberg, Manu Vandijck, Michael W Weiner, John Q Trojanowski, Leslie M Shaw, Henrik Zetterberg, Kaj Blennow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Objectives: To test the associations between the presynaptic growth-associated protein 43 (GAP-43), quantified in CSF, and biomarkers of Alzheimer disease (AD) pathophysiology, cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Methods: In this retrospective study, GAP-43 was measured in participants from the AD Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) cohort using an in-house ELISA method, and levels were compared between groups, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Linear regression models tested the associations between biomarkers of AD (amyloid beta [Aβ] and tau pathologies, neurodegeneration, and cognition) adjusted by age, sex, and diagnosis. Linear mixed-effect models evaluated how baseline GAP-43 predicts brain hypometabolism, atrophy, and cognitive decline over time. Cox proportional hazard regression models tested how GAP-43 levels and Aβ status, at baseline, increased the risk of progression to AD dementia over time. Results: This study included 786 participants from the ADNI cohort, which were further classified in cognitively unimpaired (CU) Aβ-negative (nCU- = 197); CU Aβ-positive (nCU+ = 55), mild cognitively impaired (MCI) Aβ-negative (nMCI- = 228), MCI Aβ-positive (nMCI+ = 193), and AD dementia Aβ-positive (nAD = 113). CSF GAP-43 levels were increased in Aβ-positive compared with Aβ-negative participants, independent of the cognitive status. In Aβ-positive participants, high baseline GAP-43 levels led to worse brain metabolic decline (p = 0.01), worse brain atrophy (p = 8.8 × 10-27), and worse MMSE scores (p = 0.03) over time, as compared with those with low GAP-43 levels. Similarly, Aβ-positive participants with high baseline GAP-43 had the highest risk to convert to AD dementia (hazard ratio [HR = 8.56, 95% CI 4.94-14.80, p = 1.5 × 10-14]). Despite the significant association with Aβ pathology (η2Aβ PET = 0.09, PAβ PET < 0.001), CSF total tau (tTau) and phosphorylated tau (pTau) had a larger effect size on GAP43 than Aβ PET (η2pTau-181 = 0.53, PpTau-181 < 0.001; η2tTau = 0.59, PtTau < 0.001). Discussion: High baseline levels of CSF GAP-43 are associated with progression in Aβ-positive individuals, with a more aggressive neurodegenerative process, faster rate of cognitive decline, and increased risk of converting to dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E275-E285
Issue number3
Early online date3 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2023


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