The load of amyloid-β oligomers is decreased in the cerebrospinal fluid of Alzheimer's disease patients

Giulia M. Sancesario, Maria T. Cencioni, Zaira Esposito, Giovanna Borsellino, Marzia Nuccetelli, Alessandro Martorana, Luca Battistini, Roberto Sorge, Gianfranco Spalletta, Davide Ferrazzoli, Giorgio Bernardi, Sergio Bernardini, Giuseppe Sancesario

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amyloid-β (Aβ) oligomers are heterogeneous and instable compounds of variable molecular weight. Flow cytometry and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based methods allow the simultaneous detection of Aβ oligomers with low and high molecular weight in their native form. We evaluated whether an estimate of different species of Aβ oligomers in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) with or without dilution with RIPA buffer could be more useful in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) than the measurement of Aβ42 monomers, total tau (t-tau), and phosphorylated tau (p-tau). Increased t-tau (p <0.01) and p-tau (p <0.01), and decreased Aβ42 (p <0.01), were detected in the CSF of patients with AD (n = 46), compared to patients with other dementia (OD) (n = 35) or with other neurological disorders (OND) (n = 56). In native CSF (n = 137), the levels of Aβ oligomers were lower (p <0.05) in AD than in OD and OND patients; in addition, the ratio Aβ oligomers/p-tau was lower in AD than in OD (p <0.01) and OND (p <0.05) patients, yielding a sensitivity of 75% and a specificity of 64%. However, in CSF diluted with RIPA (n = 30), Aβ oligomers appeared higher (p <0.05) in AD than in OND patients, suggesting they become partially disaggregated and more easily detectable after RIPA. In conclusion, FRET analysis in native CSF is essential to correctly determine the composition of Aβ oligomers. In this experimental setting, the simultaneous estimate of low and high molecular weight Aβ oligomers is as useful as the other biomarkers in the diagnosis of AD. The low amount of Aβ oligomers detected in native CSF of AD may be inversely related to their levels in the brain, as occurs for Aβ monomers, representing a biomarker for the amyloid pathogenic cascade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)865-878
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • amyloid-β
  • biomarkers
  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • flow cytometry
  • fluorescence resonance energy transfer
  • FRET
  • oligomers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Psychology


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