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Comparing the clinical utility and diagnostic performance of cerebrospinal fluid P-tau181, P-tau217 and P-tau231 assays


Leuzy, Antoine et al. (2021), Comparing the clinical utility and diagnostic performance of cerebrospinal fluid P-tau181, P-tau217 and P-tau231 assays, Dryad, Dataset,


Background and Objectives: Phosphorylated tau (P-tau) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is considered an important biomarker in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and has been incorporated in recent diagnostic criteria. Several variants exist, including P-tau at threonines 181 (P-tau181), 217 (P-tau217) and 231 (P-tau231). However, no studies have compared their diagnostic performance or association to amyloid-β (Aβ) and Tau positron emission tomography (PET). Understanding which P-tau variant to use remains an important yet answered question. We aimed to compare the diagnostic accuracy of P-tau181, P-tau217 and P-tau231 in CSF for AD and their association with Aβ and Tau-PET.

Methods: 629 subjects from the Swedish BioFINDER-2 study were included (cognitively unimpaired, n=334; Aβ-positive mild cognitive impairment, n=84; AD dementia, n=119; and non-AD disorders, n=92). In addition to P-tau181 and P-tau217 measured using assays with the same detector antibodies from Eli Lilly (P-tau181Lilly, P-tau217Lilly) and P-tau231, we also included P-tau181 measurements from two commonly used assays (Innotest and Elecsys). 

Results: Though all P-tau variants increased across the AD continuum, P-tau217Lilly showed the greatest dynamic range (13-fold-increase vs 1.9-5.4-fold-increase for other P-tau variants for AD dementia vs non-AD). P-tau217Lilly showed stronger correlations with Aβ- and Tau-PET (P<0.0001). P-tau217Lilly exhibited higher accuracy than other P-tau variants for separating AD dementia from non-AD (AUC, 0.991vs 0.906-0.982, P<0.0001) and for identifying Aβ- (AUC, 0.951 vs 0.816-0.924, P<0.0001) and Tau-PET positivity (AUC, 0.957 vs 0.836-0.938, P<0.0001). Finally, P-tau181Lillygenerally performed better than the other P-tau181 assays, (e.g., AD dementia vs non-AD, AUC, 0.976 vs 0.923, P<0.0001). 

Discussion: CSF P-tau217Lilly seem to be more useful than other included P-tau assays in the work-up of AD. Varied results across P-tau181 assays also highlights the importance of anti-tau antibodies for biomarker performance.

Classification of evidence: This study provides class II evidence that phosphorylated tau at threonine 217 provides higher diagnostic accuracy for diagnosis of AD dementia than P-tau at threonine 181 or 231.