DOI: 10.1002/alz.075575 ISSN: 1552-5260

Amyloid β‐specific T cell response is enhanced in individuals with mild cognitive impairment

Yen‐Ling Chiu, Ruo‐Wei Hung, Yi‐ Fang Chuang
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology



Neuroinflammation is a key process in initiating and propagating Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Even though it is widely known that the deposit of amyloid plaques and CSF levels of amyloid distinguishes patients with AD or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) from cognitively normal (CN) individuals, little is known about the role of amyloid‐specific immune response in cognitive decline.


Using a polyfunctionality assay typically used for detecting virus‐specific T cell responses, we tested participants from the Epidemiology of Mild Cognitive Impairment in Taiwan study (EMCIT) and the Taiwan Precision Medicine Initiative of Cognitive impairment and dementia (TPMIC) study to compare the amyloid‐specific T cell responses between CN and MCI individuals. The abilities of T cell response parameters and plasma p‐Tau181 to distinguish MCI from CN were tested.


Results from both cohorts showed an enhanced amyloid‐specific T‐cell response in individuals with MCI. In the EMCIT cohort, the individual’s amyloid‐specific CD4+ response frequency of total CD4+ cells was significantly larger in MCI (n = 69, 0.93%) than in CN (n = 69, 0.51%, p < 0.001). CD4+ T cell response discriminated MCI versus CN (area under curve [AUC], 0.72 [0.64‐0.81]) with significantly higher accuracy than p‐Tau181 (AUC: 0.59 [0.5‐0.69], p < 0.01). In the TPMIC cohort, both CD4+ and CD8+ response frequencies were higher in MCI individuals (n = 21, CD4: 1.2%, CD8: 2.02%) than in CN (n = 30, CD4: 0.14%, CD8:0.27%; both p < 0.001). CD4+ T cell response frequency and CD8+ response frequency also outperform p‐Tau181 in their discriminative accuracy of MCI versus NC (CD4+ AUC, 0.97, [0.94‐1.01]; CD8+ AUC, 0.96, [0.92‐1.01]; p‐Tau181 AUC, 0.83, [0.69‐0.96]; both p < 0.05).


Our study validates the amyloid hypothesis by showing that amyloid‐associated neuroinflammation is involved in the process of neurodegeneration and demonstrated the accuracy of using amyloid‐specific T cell response to discriminate MCI from CN individuals. The TPMIC cohort is an ongoing longitudinal study that includes amyloid PET results and thus we will investigate the prognostic value of amyloid‐T cell response in the future.

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