Plasma Total Tau and Neurobehavioral Symptoms of Cognitive Decline in Cognitively Normal Older Adults

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Depression and related neurobehavioral symptoms are common features of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The presence of these potentially modifiable neurobehavioral symptoms in cognitively intact older adults may represent an early indication of pathophysiological processes in the brain. Tau pathology is a key feature of a number of dementias. A number of studies have found an association between tau and neurobehavioral symptoms. The current study investigated the relationship of a blood-based biomarker of tau and symptoms of depression, anxiety, worry, and sleep disturbances in 538 community based, cognitively normal older adults. Logistic regression revealed no significant relationship between plasma total tau and any measures of neurobehavioral symptoms. To assess the impact of level of tau on these relationships, participants were divided into those in the highest quintile of tau and those in the lower four quintiles. Regression analyses showed a significant relationship between level of plasma total tau and measures of depression, apathy, anxiety, worry and sleep. The presence of higher levels of plasma tau and elevated neurobehavioral symptoms may be an early indicator of cognitive decline and prodromal Alzheimer’s disease. Longitudinal research is needed to evaluate the impact of these factors on the development of dementia and may suggest areas for early intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number774049
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - 5 Nov 2021


  • anxiety
  • apathy
  • cognitively normal
  • daytime sleepiness
  • depression
  • older adults
  • plasma tau
  • worry


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