The Amyloid, Tau, and Neurodegeneration (A/T/N) Classification Applied to a Clinical Research Cohort with Long-Term Follow-Up
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: The unbiased amyloid, tau, and neurodegeneration (A/T/N) classification is designed to characterize individuals in the Alzheimer continuum and is currently little explored in clinical cohorts. Objective: A retrospective comparison of the A/T/N classification system with the results of a two-year clinical study, with extended follow-up up to 10 years after inclusion. Methods: Patients (n = 102) clinically diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) with dementia or amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 61 cognitively healthy control individuals were included. Baseline cerebrospinal fluid core biomarkers for AD (A42, phosphorylated tau, and total tau) were applied to the A/T/N classification using the final clinical diagnosis at extended follow-up as the gold standard. Results: A + T + N+ was a strong predictor for AD dementia, even among cognitively healthy individuals. Amnestic MCI was heterogenous, considering both clinical outcome and distribution within A/T/N. Some individuals with amnestic MCI progressed to clinical AD dementia within all four major A/T/N groups. The highest proportion of progression was among triple positive cases, but progression was also common in individuals with suspected non-Alzheimer pathophysiology (AT + N+), and those with triple negative status. A-T-N- individuals who were cognitively healthy overwhelmingly remained cognitively intact over time, but in amnestic MCI the clinical outcome was heterogenous, including AD dementia, other dementias, and recovery. Conclusion: The A/T/N framework accentuates biomarkers over clinical status. However, when selecting individuals for research, a combination of the two may be necessary since the prognostic value of the A/T/N framework depends on clinical status.