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Integrated Proteomics Reveals Brain-Based Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in Asymptomatic and Symptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease

By Lenora Higginbotham, Lingyan Ping, Eric B. Dammer, Duc M. Duong, Maotian Zhou, Marla Gearing, Erik C.B. Johnson, Ihab Hajjar, James J. Lah, Allan I. Levey, Nicholas T. Seyfried

Posted 16 Oct 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/806752

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) features a complex web of pathological processes beyond amyloid accumulation and tau-mediated neuronal death. To meaningfully advance AD therapeutics, there is an urgent need for novel biomarkers that comprehensively reflect these disease mechanisms. Here we applied an integrative proteomics approach to identify cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers linked to a diverse set of pathophysiological processes in the diseased brain. Using multiplex proteomics, we identified >3,500 proteins across 40 CSF samples from control and AD patients and >12,000 proteins across 48 postmortem brain tissues from control, asymptomatic AD (AsymAD), AD, and other neurodegenerative cases. Co-expression network analysis of the brain tissues resolved 44 protein modules, nearly half of which significantly correlated with AD neuropathology. Fifteen modules robustly overlapped with proteins quantified in the CSF, including 271 CSF markers highly altered in AD. These 15 overlapping modules were collapsed into five panels of brain-linked fluid markers representing a variety of cortical functions. Neuron-enriched synaptic and metabolic panels demonstrated decreased levels in the AD brain but increased levels in diseased CSF. Conversely, glial-enriched myelination and immunity panels were highly increased in both the brain and CSF. Using high-throughput proteomic analysis, proteins from these panels were validated in an independent CSF cohort of control, AsymAD, and AD samples. Remarkably, several validated markers were significantly altered in AsymAD CSF and appeared to stratify subpopulations within this cohort. Overall, these brain-linked CSF biomarker panels represent a promising step toward a physiologically comprehensive tool that could meaningfully enhance the prognostic and therapeutic management of AD.

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