Plasma phosphorylated-tau181 as a predictive biomarker for Alzheimer’s amyloid, tau and FDG PET status

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Plasma phosphorylated-tau181 (p-tau181) showed the potential for Alzheimer’s diagnosis and prognosis, but its role in detecting cerebral pathologies is unclear. We aimed to evaluate whether it could serve as a marker for Alzheimer’s pathology in the brain. A total of 1189 participants with plasma p-tau181 and PET data of amyloid, tau or FDG PET were included from ADNI. Cross-sectional relationships of plasma p-tau181 with PET biomarkers were tested. Longitudinally, we further investigated whether different p-tau181 levels at baseline predicted different progression of Alzheimer’s pathological changes in the brain. We found plasma p-tau181 significantly correlated with brain amyloid (Spearman ρ = 0.45, P < 0.0001), tau (0.25, P = 0.0003), and FDG PET uptakes (−0.37, P < 0.0001), and increased along the Alzheimer’s continuum. Individually, plasma p-tau181 could detect abnormal amyloid, tau pathologies and hypometabolism in the brain, similar with or even better than clinical indicators. The diagnostic accuracy of plasma p-tau181 elevated significantly when combined with clinical information (AUC = 0.814 for amyloid PET, 0.773 for tau PET, and 0.708 for FDG PET). Relationships of plasma p-tau181 with brain pathologies were partly or entirely mediated by the corresponding CSF biomarkers. Besides, individuals with abnormal plasma p-tau181 level (>18.85 pg/ml) at baseline had a higher risk of pathological progression in brain amyloid (HR: 2.32, 95%CI 1.32–4.08) and FDG PET (3.21, 95%CI 2.06–5.01) status. Plasma p-tau181 may be a sensitive screening test for detecting brain pathologies, and serve as a predictive biomarker for Alzheimer’s pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number585
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (9184910220, 91849126, 81571245, and 81771148), the National Key R&D Program of China (2018YFC1314700), Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Major Project (No.2018SHZDZX01), ZHANGJIANG LAB, and Shanghai Center for Brain Science and Brain-Inspired Technology, Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute, and the State Key Laboratory of Neurobiology and Frontiers Center for Brain Science of Ministry of Education, Fudan University. Data collection and sharing for this project was funded by the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) (National Institutes of Health Grant U01 AG024904) and DOD ADNI (Department of Defense award number W81XWH-12-2-0012). Data used in the preparation for this article were derived from the ADNI database ( The authors express appreciation to contributors of Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database. ADNI is funded by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and through generous contributions from the following: AbbVie, Alzheimer’s Association; Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation; Araclon Biotech; BioClinica, Inc.; Biogen; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; CereSpir, Inc.; Cogstate; Eisai Inc.; Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Eli Lilly and Company; EuroImmun; F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd and its affiliated company Genentech, Inc.; Fujirebio; GE Healthcare; IXICO Ltd.; Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy Research & Development, LLC.; Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development LLC.; Lumosity; Lundbeck; Merck & Co., Inc.; Meso Scale Diagnostics, LLC.; NeuroRx Research; Neurotrack Technologies; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; Pfizer Inc.;

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Plasma phosphorylated-tau181 as a predictive biomarker for Alzheimer’s amyloid, tau and FDG PET status'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this