Mitigating the Associations of Kidney Dysfunction with Blood Biomarkers of Alzheimer Disease by Using Phosphorylated Tau to Total Tau Ratios

Shorena Janelidze, Nicolas R. Barthélemy, Yingxin He, Randall J. Bateman, Oskar Hansson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Importance: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) has been associated with increased plasma concentrations of phosphorylated tau (p-tau) 217 and p-tau181, which potentially decreases their usefulness in the diagnostic workup of Alzheimer disease (AD). Objective: To investigate associations of CKD with plasma ratios of p-tau217 and p-tau181 to the corresponding unphosphorylated peptides in AD. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study included patients with mild cognitive impairment (cohort 1; enrollment in 2000-2005) and replication in cohort 2 from the Swedish BioFINDER-2 study, including both cognitively unimpaired individuals and those with cognitive impairment (enrollment in 2017-2022). All participants were from 2 memory clinics in Sweden and had plasma tau assessments and CKD status established within 6 months of plasma collection. Exposures: P-tau217 and p-tau181, unphosphorylated peptides (Tau212-221 and Tau181-190), and the ratios (pT217/T217 and pT181/T181) as well as estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) as an indicator of CKD. Main Outcomes and Measures: Associations between plasma-soluble p-tau and CKD. Results: A total of 141 participants from cohort 1 (mean [SD] age, 72.2 [7.7] years; 82 [58.2%] women) and 332 participants from cohort 2 (172 with cognitive impairment and 160 cognitively unimpaired individuals; mean [SD] age, 69.8 [9.4] years; 169 [50.9%] women) were included. Higher eGFR was associated with increased levels of plasma p-tau217, p-tau181, Tau212-221, and Tau181-190 in individuals with cognitive impairment (cohort 1: R range, -0.24 to -0.59; P <.004; cohort 2: R range, -0.18 to -0.53; P <.02) and cognitively unimpaired individuals (cohort 2: R range, -0.44 to -0.50; P <.001). However, eGFR did not correlate with the pT217/T217 ratio in patients with cognitive impairment (cohort 1: R, -0.11; P =.19; cohort 2: R, -0.02; P =.78), and the correlations with pT217/T217 ratio were significantly attenuated in cognitively unimpaired individuals (difference: R, -0.14 [95% CI, -0.22 to -0.007]; P =.001). For p-tau217 and pT217/T217, the mean fold increases in amyloid-β positive (Aβ+) compared with Aβ- groups ranged from 2.31 (95% CI, 1.86-2.77) to 4.61 (95% CI, 3.39-5.83) in participants with cognitive impairment and from 1.26 (95% CI, 0.98-1.55) to 1.27 (95% CI, 0.94-1.59) in cognitively unimpaired individuals and were clearly higher than the mean fold increases in those with CKD compared with those without CKD, ranging from 0.05 (95% CI, -0.28 to 0.38) to 0.72 (95% CI, 0.25-1.19) in participants with cognitive impairment and from 0.09 (95% CI, -0.08 to 0.26) to 0.36 (95% CI, 0.19-0.52) in cognitively unimpaired individuals. Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, CKD was associated with increased plasma levels of soluble tau, but for p-tau217 the associations were considerably lower than the association with Aβ positivity. Importantly, the ratios, and especially pT217/T217, were less associated with CKD than p-tau forms alone and therefore are likely to more accurately reflect AD-related pathological changes..

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-522
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA Neurology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 8 2023


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