Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia and mild cognitive impairment are characterised by impaired cognition accompanied by neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) relating to mood, including depression, anxiety, and apathy. However, the utility of AD biomarkers for predicting mood symptoms of NPS remains controversial. Herein, we analyzed the relationship between phosphorylated tau (p-tau) and depression, anxiety, and apathy of NPS. We also examined the influence of genetic factors such as apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 on these relationships.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey in older patients (n = 122) with normal cognition (n = 12), mild cognitive impairment (n = 46), and AD (n = 64) strictly diagnosed by the board of psychiatrists and neurologists of Hokkaido University. NPS of the patients were assessed using the Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire (NPI). All patients also received a lumbar puncture to obtain cerebral spinal fluid for assessment of p-tau. The inverse probability weighting method was used to adjust for demographic differences between the p-tau present group and the p-tau absent group.
There was an association between p-tau accumulation and decreased incidence of depression and apathy. APOE ε4 non-carriers also showed a trend toward a negative association between p-tau and depression, which was not evident in APOE ε4 carriers.
We provide new evidence for a negative correlation between p-tau and depression and apathy of NPS, which may be influenced by APOE ε4. Future longitudinal studies are required to confirm the utility of p-tau for predicting the course of mood symptoms in patients with cognitive decline.