Associations of plasma NfL, GFAP, and t-tau with cerebral small vessel disease and incident dementia: longitudinal data of the AGES-Reykjavik Study

April C.E. van Gennip, Claudia L. Satizabal, Russell P. Tracy, Sigurdur Sigurdsson, Vilmundur Gudnason, Lenore J. Launer, Thomas T. van Sloten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We investigated the associations of plasma neurofilament light (NfL), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), and total tau (t-tau) with markers of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) and with incident dementia. We also investigated whether associations of NfL, GFAP, and t-tau with incident dementia were explained by SVD. Data are from a random subsample (n = 1069) of the population-based AGES-Reykjavik Study who underwent brain MRI and in whom plasma NfL, GFAP, and t-tau were measured at baseline (76.1 ± 5.4 years/55.9% women/baseline 2002–2006/follow-up until 2015). A composite SVD burden score was calculated using white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV), subcortical infarcts, cerebral microbleeds, and large perivascular spaces. Dementia was assessed in a 3-step process and adjudicated by specialists. Higher NfL was associated with a higher SVD burden score. Dementia occurred in 225 (21.0%) individuals. The SVD burden score significantly explained part of the association between NfL and incident dementia. WMHV mostly strongly contributed to the explained effect. GFAP was not associated with the SVD burden score, but was associated with WMHV, and WMHV significantly explained part of the association between GFAP and incident dementia. T-tau was associated with WMHV, but not with incident dementia. In conclusion, the marker most strongly related to SVD is plasma NfL, for which the association with WMHV appeared to explain part of its association with incident dementia. This study suggests that plasma NfL may reflect the contribution of co-morbid vascular disease to dementia. However, the magnitude of the explained effect was relatively small, and further research is required to investigate the clinical implications of this finding.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGeroScience
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

Other keywords

  • Cerebral small vessel disease
  • Dementia
  • Epidemiology
  • Plasma GFAP
  • Plasma NfL
  • Plasma t-tau

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