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Alzheimer's pathology targets distinct memory networks in the ageing brain

Maass, Anne ; Berron, David LU ; Harrison, Theresa M. ; Adams, Jenna N. ; La Joie, Renaud ; Baker, Suzanne ; Mellinger, Taylor ; Bell, Rachel K. ; Swinnerton, Kaitlin and Inglis, Ben , et al. (2019) In Brain : a journal of neurology 142(8). p.2492-2509
Abstract

Alzheimer's disease researchers have been intrigued by the selective regional vulnerability of the brain to amyloid-β plaques and tau neurofibrillary tangles. Post-mortem studies indicate that in ageing and Alzheimer's disease tau tangles deposit early in the transentorhinal cortex, a region located in the anterior-temporal lobe that is critical for object memory. In contrast, amyloid-β pathology seems to target a posterior-medial network that subserves spatial memory. In the current study, we tested whether anterior-temporal and posterior-medial brain regions are selectively vulnerable to tau and amyloid-β deposition in the progression from ageing to Alzheimer's disease and whether this is reflected in domain-specific behavioural... (More)

Alzheimer's disease researchers have been intrigued by the selective regional vulnerability of the brain to amyloid-β plaques and tau neurofibrillary tangles. Post-mortem studies indicate that in ageing and Alzheimer's disease tau tangles deposit early in the transentorhinal cortex, a region located in the anterior-temporal lobe that is critical for object memory. In contrast, amyloid-β pathology seems to target a posterior-medial network that subserves spatial memory. In the current study, we tested whether anterior-temporal and posterior-medial brain regions are selectively vulnerable to tau and amyloid-β deposition in the progression from ageing to Alzheimer's disease and whether this is reflected in domain-specific behavioural deficits and neural dysfunction. 11C-PiB PET and 18F-flortaucipir uptake was quantified in a sample of 131 cognitively normal adults (age: 20-93 years; 47 amyloid-β-positive) and 20 amyloid-β-positive patients with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease dementia (65-95 years). Tau burden was relatively higher in anterior-temporal regions in normal ageing and this difference was further pronounced in the presence of amyloid-β and cognitive impairment, indicating exacerbation of ageing-related processes in Alzheimer's disease. In contrast, amyloid-β deposition dominated in posterior-medial regions. A subsample of 50 cognitively normal older (26 amyloid-β-positive) and 25 young adults performed an object and scene memory task while functional MRI data were acquired. Group comparisons showed that tau-positive (n = 18) compared to tau-negative (n = 32) older adults showed lower mnemonic discrimination of object relative to scene images [t(48) = -3.2, P = 0.002]. In a multiple regression model including regional measures of both pathologies, higher anterior-temporal flortaucipir (tau) was related to relatively worse object performance (P = 0.010, r = -0.376), whereas higher posterior-medial PiB (amyloid-β) was related to worse scene performance (P = 0.037, r = 0.309). The functional MRI data revealed that tau burden (but not amyloid-β) was associated with increased task activation in both systems and a loss of functional specificity, or dedifferentiation, in posterior-medial regions. The loss of functional specificity was related to worse memory. Our study shows a regional dissociation of Alzheimer's disease pathologies to distinct memory networks. While our data are cross-sectional, they indicate that with ageing, tau deposits mainly in the anterior-temporal system, which results in deficits in mnemonic object discrimination. As Alzheimer's disease develops, amyloid-β deposits preferentially in posterior-medial regions additionally compromising scene discrimination and anterior-temporal tau deposition worsens further. Finally, our findings propose that the progression of tau pathology is linked to aberrant activation and dedifferentiation of specialized memory networks that is detrimental to memory function.

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Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
anterior-temporal (AT), hyperactivation, memory, posterior-medial (PM), tau
in
Brain : a journal of neurology
volume
142
issue
8
pages
18 pages
publisher
Oxford University Press
external identifiers
  • scopus:85070659564
  • pmid:31199481
ISSN
1460-2156
DOI
10.1093/brain/awz154
language
English
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yes
id
a760ea1c-47a1-4d8c-a141-364e468a7cc0
date added to LUP
2019-09-03 11:57:40
date last changed
2021-05-05 02:45:48
@article{a760ea1c-47a1-4d8c-a141-364e468a7cc0,
  abstract     = {<p>Alzheimer's disease researchers have been intrigued by the selective regional vulnerability of the brain to amyloid-β plaques and tau neurofibrillary tangles. Post-mortem studies indicate that in ageing and Alzheimer's disease tau tangles deposit early in the transentorhinal cortex, a region located in the anterior-temporal lobe that is critical for object memory. In contrast, amyloid-β pathology seems to target a posterior-medial network that subserves spatial memory. In the current study, we tested whether anterior-temporal and posterior-medial brain regions are selectively vulnerable to tau and amyloid-β deposition in the progression from ageing to Alzheimer's disease and whether this is reflected in domain-specific behavioural deficits and neural dysfunction. 11C-PiB PET and 18F-flortaucipir uptake was quantified in a sample of 131 cognitively normal adults (age: 20-93 years; 47 amyloid-β-positive) and 20 amyloid-β-positive patients with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease dementia (65-95 years). Tau burden was relatively higher in anterior-temporal regions in normal ageing and this difference was further pronounced in the presence of amyloid-β and cognitive impairment, indicating exacerbation of ageing-related processes in Alzheimer's disease. In contrast, amyloid-β deposition dominated in posterior-medial regions. A subsample of 50 cognitively normal older (26 amyloid-β-positive) and 25 young adults performed an object and scene memory task while functional MRI data were acquired. Group comparisons showed that tau-positive (n = 18) compared to tau-negative (n = 32) older adults showed lower mnemonic discrimination of object relative to scene images [t(48) = -3.2, P = 0.002]. In a multiple regression model including regional measures of both pathologies, higher anterior-temporal flortaucipir (tau) was related to relatively worse object performance (P = 0.010, r = -0.376), whereas higher posterior-medial PiB (amyloid-β) was related to worse scene performance (P = 0.037, r = 0.309). The functional MRI data revealed that tau burden (but not amyloid-β) was associated with increased task activation in both systems and a loss of functional specificity, or dedifferentiation, in posterior-medial regions. The loss of functional specificity was related to worse memory. Our study shows a regional dissociation of Alzheimer's disease pathologies to distinct memory networks. While our data are cross-sectional, they indicate that with ageing, tau deposits mainly in the anterior-temporal system, which results in deficits in mnemonic object discrimination. As Alzheimer's disease develops, amyloid-β deposits preferentially in posterior-medial regions additionally compromising scene discrimination and anterior-temporal tau deposition worsens further. Finally, our findings propose that the progression of tau pathology is linked to aberrant activation and dedifferentiation of specialized memory networks that is detrimental to memory function.</p>},
  author       = {Maass, Anne and Berron, David and Harrison, Theresa M. and Adams, Jenna N. and La Joie, Renaud and Baker, Suzanne and Mellinger, Taylor and Bell, Rachel K. and Swinnerton, Kaitlin and Inglis, Ben and Rabinovici, Gil D. and Düzel, Emrah and Jagust, William J.},
  issn         = {1460-2156},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {08},
  number       = {8},
  pages        = {2492--2509},
  publisher    = {Oxford University Press},
  series       = {Brain : a journal of neurology},
  title        = {Alzheimer's pathology targets distinct memory networks in the ageing brain},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awz154},
  doi          = {10.1093/brain/awz154},
  volume       = {142},
  year         = {2019},
}