(AD) is a devastating neurological disease characterized by pathological proteolytic cleavage of tau protein, which appears to initiate death of the neurons. The objective of this study was to investigate whether a proteolytic fragment of the tau protein could serve as blood-based biomarker of cognitive function in AD.
METHODS: We developed a highly sensitive ELISA assay specifically detecting an A Disintegrin and Metalloproteinase 10 (ADAM10)-generated fragment of tau (Tau-A). We characterized the assay in detail with to respect specificity and reactivity in healthy human serum. We used samples from the Tg4510 tau transgenic mice, which over-express the tau mutant P301L and exhibit a tauopathy with similarities to that observed in AD. We used serum samples from 21 well-characterized Alzheimer\u0027s patients, and we correlated the Tau-A levels to cognitive function.
RESULTS: The Tau-A ELISA specifically detected the cleavage sequence at the N-terminus of a fragment of tau generated by ADAM10 with no cross-reactivity to intact tau or brain extracts. In brain extracts from Tg4510 mice compared to wt controls we found 10-fold higher levels of Tau-A (p\u003c0.001), which indicates a pathological relevance of this marker. In serum from healthy individuals we found robust and reproducible levels of Tau-A, indicating that the analyte is present in serum. In serum from AD patients an inverse correlation (R² = 0.46, p\u003c0.001) between the cognitive assessment score (Mattis Dementia Rating Scale (MDRS)) and Tau-A levels was observed.
CONCLUSION: Based on the hypothesis that tau is cleaved proteolytically and then released into the blood, we here provide evidence for the presence of an ADAM10-generated tau fragment (Tau-A) in serum. In addition, the levels of Tau-A showed an inverse correlation to cognitive function, which could indicate that this marker is a serum marker with pathological relevance for AD
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