Incremental value of biomarker combinations to predict progression of mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s dementia

  • Background: The progression of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia can be predicted by cognitive, neuroimaging, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) markers. Since most biomarkers reveal complementary information, a combination of biomarkers may increase the predictive power. We investigated which combination of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR)-sum-of-boxes, the word list delayed free recall from the Consortium to Establish a Registry of Dementia (CERAD) test battery, hippocampal volume (HCV), amyloid-beta1–42 (Aβ42), amyloid-beta1–40 (Aβ40) levels, the ratio of Aβ42/Aβ40, phosphorylated tau, and total tau (t-Tau) levels in the CSF best predicted a short-term conversion from MCI to AD dementia. Methods: We used 115 complete datasets from MCI patients of the "Dementia Competence Network", a German multicenter cohort study with annual follow-up up to 3 years. MCI was broadly defined to include amnestic and nonamnestic syndromes. Variables known to predict progression in MCI patients were selected a priori. Nine individual predictors were compared by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. ROC curves of the five best two-, three-, and four-parameter combinations were analyzed for significant superiority by a bootstrapping wrapper around a support vector machine with linear kernel. The incremental value of combinations was tested for statistical significance by comparing the specificities of the different classifiers at a given sensitivity of 85%. Results: Out of 115 subjects, 28 (24.3%) with MCI progressed to AD dementia within a mean follow-up period of 25.5 months. At baseline, MCI-AD patients were no different from stable MCI in age and gender distribution, but had lower educational attainment. All single biomarkers were significantly different between the two groups at baseline. ROC curves of the individual predictors gave areas under the curve (AUC) between 0.66 and 0.77, and all single predictors were statistically superior to Aβ40. The AUC of the two-parameter combinations ranged from 0.77 to 0.81. The three-parameter combinations ranged from AUC 0.80–0.83, and the four-parameter combination from AUC 0.81–0.82. None of the predictor combinations was significantly superior to the two best single predictors (HCV and t-Tau). When maximizing the AUC differences by fixing sensitivity at 85%, the two- to four-parameter combinations were superior to HCV alone. Conclusion: A combination of two biomarkers of neurodegeneration (e.g., HCV and t-Tau) is not superior over the single parameters in identifying patients with MCI who are most likely to progress to AD dementia, although there is a gradual increase in the statistical measures across increasing biomarker combinations. This may have implications for clinical diagnosis and for selecting subjects for participation in clinical trials.

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Author:Lutz Frölich, Oliver Peters, Piotr Lewczuk, Oliver Gruber, Stefan Teipel, Hermann-Josef Gertz, Holger Jahn, Frank Jessen, Alexander Kurz, Christian Luckhaus, Michael Hüll, Johannes Pantel, Friedel ReischiesGND, Johannes Schröder, Michael Wagner, Otto Rienhoff, Stefanie Wolf, Chris Bauer, Johannes Schuchhardt, Isabella Heuser, Eckart Rüther, Fritz Henn, Wolfgang Maier, Jens Wiltfang, Johannes Kornhuber
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Alzheimer's research & therapy
Publisher:BioMed Central
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2017
Date of first Publication:2017/10/10
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/07/05
Tag:Alzheimer’s dementia; Amyloid-beta 42; Biomarkers; Hippocampal volume; Mild cognitive impairment; Phospho-tau; Prediction; Tau
Issue:1, Art. 84
Page Number:15
First Page:1
Last Page:15
Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Institutes:Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0