Introduction: This study investigated the diagnostic and disease-monitoring potential of plasma biomarkers in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia and cognitively unimpaired (CU) individuals. Methods: Plasma was analyzed using Simoa assays from 99 CU, 107 MCI, and 103 AD dementia participants. Results: Phosphorylated-tau181 (P-tau181), neurofilament light, amyloid-β (Aβ42/40), Total-tau and Glial fibrillary acidic protein were altered in AD dementia but P-tau181 significantly outperformed all biomarkers in differentiating AD dementia from CU (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.91). P-tau181 was increased in MCI converters compared to non-converters. Higher P-tau181 was associated with steeper cognitive decline and gray matter loss in temporal regions. Longitudinal change of P-tau181 was strongly associated with gray matter loss in the full sample and with Aβ measures in CU individuals. Discussion: P-tau181 detected AD at MCI and dementia stages and was strongly associated with cognitive decline and gray matter loss. These findings highlight the potential value of plasma P-tau181 as a non-invasive and cost-effective diagnostic and prognostic biomarker in AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1156
Number of pages12
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • phosphorylated tau
  • plasma biomarkers


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