DOI: 10.1002/alz.073344 ISSN: 1552-5260

Amyloid and Tau PET Positivity in Progressive Apraxia of Speech and Agrammatic Aphasia

Rene L Utianski, Nirubol Tosakulwong, Joseph R Duffy, Heather M Clark, Katerina A Tetzloff, Mary M. Machulda, Hugo Botha, Jennifer L Whitwell, Keith A Josephs
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology



The spectrum of what is referred to as nonfluent/agrammatic primary progressive aphasia includes patients with isolated apraxia of speech (PPAOS), progressive agrammatic aphasia (PAA), or a combination thereof (AOS‐PAA). When AOS is present, there is typically an underlying 4R tauopathy (corticobasal degeneration; progressive supranuclear palsy); isolated PAA is more often associated with a 3R tauopathy (Pick’s disease). While pathological studies confirm the clinical syndrome is the sequela of these proteinopathies, beta‐amyloid (Aβ) deposition has also been observed. Given the growing number of treatment options, it is important to better understand the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in PPAOS‐PAA spectrum disorders.


65 patients recruited by the Neurodegenerative Research Group at Mayo Clinic underwent Aβ‐PET imaging using Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) and tau‐PET imaging with [18F]flortaucipir at the same visit (PPAOS = 23; PAA = 6; AOS‐PAA = 36). A global PiB SUVR (standardized uptake value ratio)≥1.48 and temporal lobe tau meta‐ROI SUVR≥1.25 were deemed Aβ and tau positive, respectively. The incidence of Aβ and tau positivity and clinical‐demographic profiles were compared among groups.


There was no difference in age, sex, APOE status, tau/Aβ positivity or PET SUVRs across clinical groups (Table 1). Patients differed on indices of aphasia and AOS severity, in concordance with group membership; there was no difference on a memory measure. Eight patients (12%) were both Aβ and tau positive (indicative of the presence of AD), with an additional 20 patients (31%) positive on only one biomarker (Table 1). Of the eight Aβ and tau positive patients, seven had AOS (six prosodic predominant AOS). Aβ more than tau SUVRs increased with age and were related to each other (Figure 1).


Aβ and tau positivity is not uncommon in AOS and/or PAA patients, particularly in older patients. Enrollment criteria for Aβ or tau targeted pharmacological trials should consider concordance of biological variables and clinical presentations, rather than simply biological biomarkers. Alternatively, if such patients are enrolled, the outcome measures should reflect the clinical impairments, as it is not yet known if or how concomitant AD influences the clinical presentation.

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