Biomarkers for tau pathology

Elsevier, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Volume 97, June 2019
Scholl M., Maass A., Mattsson N., Ashton N.J., Blennow K., Zetterberg H. et al.
The aggregation of fibrils of hyperphosphorylated and C-terminally truncated microtubule-associated tau protein characterizes 80% of all dementia disorders, the most common neurodegenerative disorders. These so-called tauopathies are hitherto not curable and their diagnosis, especially at early disease stages, has traditionally proven difficult. A keystone in the diagnosis of tauopathies was the development of methods to assess levels of tau protein in vivo in cerebrospinal fluid, which has significantly improved our knowledge about these conditions. Tau proteins have also been measured in blood, but the importance of tau-related changes in blood is still unclear. The recent addition of positron emission tomography ligands to visualize, map and quantify tau pathology has further contributed with information about the temporal and spatial characteristics of tau accumulation in the living brain. Together, the measurement of tau with fluid biomarkers and positron emission tomography constitutes the basis for a highly active field of research. This review describes the current state of biomarkers for tau biomarkers derived from neuroimaging and from the analysis of bodily fluids and their roles in the detection, diagnosis and prognosis of tau-associated neurodegenerative disorders, as well as their associations with neuropathological findings, and aims to provide a perspective on how these biomarkers might be employed prospectively in research and clinical settings.