Objective: Amyloid-beta(A beta) aggregates are presumed to be found in the brain at an early stage of Alzheimer's disease (AD) but have seldom been assessed by brain biopsy during life in often elderly patients.
Methods: Between 1991 and 2006 we evaluated 468 patients with suspected normal pressure hydrocephalus with intraventricular pressure monitoring and a right frontal cortical biopsy sample immunostained for A beta and hyperphosphorylated tau (HP tau). Adequate samples and the clinical follow-up data until death or the end of 2008, available in 433 cases, were reviewed for the clinical signs of dementia, including AD. Logistic regression analysis was used to analyze whether A beta and/or HP tau in the biopsy samples obtained during life predicted development of cognitive impairment, in particular, AD.
Results: Of the 433 frontal cortical samples, 42 (10%) displayed both A beta and HP tau, 144 (33%) A beta only, and 247 (57%) neither A beta nor HP tau. In a median follow-up time of 4.4 years, 94 patients (22%) developed clinical AD. The presence of both A beta and HP tau was strongly associated (odds ratio [OR], 68.2; 95% confidence interval [Cl], 22.1-210) and A beta alone significantly associated (OR, 10.8; 95% Cl, 4.9-23.8) with the clinical diagnosis of AD.
Interpretation: This is the largest follow-up study of patients assessed for the presence of A beta and HP tau in frontal cortical brain biopsy samples. 1) The presence of A beta and HP tau spoke strongly for the presence or later development of clinical AD; 2) A beta alone was suggestive of AD; and 3) the absence of A beta and HP tau spoke against a later clinical diagnosis of AD.
2010. Vol. 68, no 4, 446-453 p.