Abnormally phosphorylated tau, an indicator of Alzheimer's disease, accumulates in the first decades of life in the locus coeruleus (LC), the brain's main noradrenaline supply. However, technical challenges in in-vivo assessments have impeded research into the role of the LC in Alzheimer's disease. We studied participants with or known to be at-risk for mutations in genes causing autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's disease (ADAD) with early onset, providing a unique window into the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's largely disentangled from age-related factors. Using high-resolution MRI and tau PET, we found lower rostral LC integrity in symptomatic participants. LC integrity was associated with individual differences in tau burden and memory decline. Post-mortem analyses in a separate set of carriers of the same mutation confirmed substantial neuronal loss in the LC. Our findings link LC degeneration to tau burden and memory in Alzheimer's, and highlight a role of the noradrenergic system in this neurodegenerative disease.
|Number of pages||16|
|Journal||Neurobiology of Aging|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2022|