Published: 31-08-2016 16:45 | Updated: 01-09-2016 17:28

Tau PET Studies Agree on connections to Alzheimer’s disease

Tracking Tau Accumulation. Tau PET ligands allow researchers to see regions (red) where tau tangles build up in an individual as prodromal Alzheimer’s progresses. Photo courtesy of Agneta Nordberg.

During the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2016 (AAIC), held July 22-28 in Toronto, the imaging data generated some of the biggest excitement at the conference. Professor Agneta Nordberg, researcher at NVS, presented recent research in studying tau pathology in brain which Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging.

The paper presented by professor Nordberg illustrates the ability of PET imaging to map, in the living patient, how the tau protein, one of the proteins that abnormally accumulate in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and some other dementias. Patients had underwent repeated PET studies with PET tracers measuring tau accumulation as well as cerebral glucose metabolism in brain.

As data from tau PET studies came rolling in during the AAIC, they painted a remarkably uniform picture of how tau accumulation fits into the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

A possible marker of AD progression

Without exception, they reported that widespread tau pathology depends upon the presence of Aβ, and that the tau signal correlates closely with brain atrophy and declining cognition, even at preclinical disease stages.

Together, the data strengthen the idea that tau PET could serve as a marker of AD progression and perhaps an outcome measure in trials, although this remains to be tested.

For further reading on Agneta Nordberg group´s and other TAU findings presented during the AAIC 2016, please visit the Alzforum webpage.

Agneta Nordberg and researchers in her group at the AAIC 2016.