BACKGROUND: 18F-flortaucipir PET received FDA approval to visualize aggregated neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in brains of adult patients with cognitive impairment being evaluated for Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, manufacturer's guidelines for visual interpretation of 18F-flortaucipir PET differ from how 18F-flortaucipir PET has been measured in research settings using standardized uptake value ratios (SUVRs). How visual interpretation relates to 18F-flortaucipir PET SUVR, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers, or longitudinal clinical assessment is not well understood. OBJECTIVE: We compare various diagnostic methods in participants enrolled in longitudinal observational studies of aging and memory (n = 189, 23 were cognitively impaired). METHODS: Participants had tau PET, Aβ PET, MRI, and clinical and cognitive evaluation within 18 months (n = 189); the majority (n = 144) also underwent lumbar puncture. Two radiologists followed manufacturer's guidelines for 18F-flortaucipir PET visual interpretation. RESULTS: Visual interpretation had high agreement with SUVR (98.4%)and moderate agreement with CSF p-tau181 (86.1%). Two participants demonstrated 18F-flortaucipir uptake from meningiomas. Visual interpretation could not predict follow-up clinical assessment in 9.52% of cases. CONCLUSION: Visual interpretation was highly consistent with SUVR (discordant participants had hemorrhagic infarcts or occipital-predominant AD NFT deposition) and moderately consistent with CSF p-tau181 (discordant participants had AD pathophysiology not detectable on tau PET). However, close association between AD NFT deposition and clinical onset in group-level studies does not necessarily hold at the individual level, with discrepancies arising from atypical AD, vascular dementia, or frontotemporal dementia. A better understanding of relationships across imaging, CSF biomarkers, and clinical assessment is needed to provide appropriate diagnoses for these individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-777
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • positron emission tomography
  • tauopathies


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparing Tau PET Visual Interpretation with Tau PET Quantification, Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers, and Longitudinal Clinical Assessment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this