Association of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide with cognitive decline in mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer disease

Pengcheng Han, Richard J. Caselli, Leslie Baxter, Geidy Serrano, Junxiang Yin, Thomas G. Beach, Eric M. Reiman, Jiong Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


IMPORTANCE: There is a deficit of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) in patients with neuropathologically confirmed Alzheimer dementia. However, whether this deficit is associated with the earlier stages of Alzheimer disease (AD) is unknown. This study was conducted to clarify the association between PACAP biomarkers and preclinical, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and dementia stages of AD in postmortem brain tissue. OBJECTIVES: To examine PACAP and PACAP receptor levels in postmortem brain tissues and cerebrospinal fluid from cognitively and neuropathologically normal control individuals, patients with MCI due to AD (MCI-AD), and individuals with AD; analyze the relationship between PACAP, cognitive, and pathologic features; and propose a model to assess these relationships. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: We measured PACAP and its receptor (PAC1) levels using enzyme-linked immunoassay. A total of 35 cases were included. All the brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid samples were selected from Banner Sun Health Research Institute Brain and Body Donation Program. All cognitive test results were in record with the Arizona Alzheimer's Consortium. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: A comparison of PACAP and PAC1 levels among the healthy controls, MCI-AD, and AD dementia groups, as well as a systematic correlation analysis between PACAP level, cognitive performance, and pathologic severity. RESULTS: The PACAP levels in cerebrospinal fluid, the superior frontal gyrus, and the middle temporal gyrus were inversely related to dementia severity. The PACAP levels in cerebrospinal fluid correlated with the Mattis Dementia Rating Scale score (Pearson r = 0.50; P = .03) and inversely correlated with total amyloid plaques (Pearson r = -0.48; P < .01) and tangles (Pearson r = -0.55; P = .01) in the brain. The PACAP in the superior frontal gyrus and middle temporal gyrus correlated with the Stroop Color-Word Interference Test (Pearson r = 0.58; P < .01) and the Auditory Verbal Learning Test-Total Learning (Pearson r = 0.33; P = .02), respectively. The PACAP in the primary visual cortex did not correlate with the Judgment of Line orientation test (P = .14). Furthermore, the PAC1 level in the superior frontal gyrus showed an upregulation in MCI-AD but not in AD. The pharmacodynamic model of the PACAP-PAC1 interaction best predicted cognitive function in the superior frontal gyrus, but it was less predictive in the middle temporal gyrus and failed to be predictive in the primary visual cortex. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Deficits in PACAP are associated with clinical severity in the MCI and dementia stages of AD. Additional studies are needed to clarify the role of PACAP deficits in the predisposition to, pathogenesis of, and treatment of AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-339
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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