Tau and Amyloid Relationships with Resting-state Functional Connectivity in Atypical Alzheimer's Disease

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The mechanisms through which tau and amyloid-beta (Aβ) accumulate in the brain of Alzheimer's disease patients may differ but both are related to neuronal networks. We examined such mechanisms on neuroimaging in 58 participants with atypical Alzheimer's disease (posterior cortical atrophy or logopenic progressive aphasia). Participants underwent Aβ-PET, longitudinal tau-PET, structural MRI and resting-state functional MRI, which was analyzed with graph theory. Regions with high levels of Aβ were more likely to be functional hubs, with a high number of functional connections important for resilience to cascading network failures. Regions with high levels of tau were more likely to have low clustering coefficients and degrees, suggesting a lack of trophic support or vulnerability to local network failures. Regions strongly functionally connected to the disease epicenters were more likely to have higher levels of tau and, less strongly, of Aβ. The regional rate of tau accumulation was associated with tau levels in functionally connected regions, in support of tau accumulation in a functional network. This study elucidates the relations of tau and Aβ to functional connectivity metrics in atypical Alzheimer's disease, strengthening the hypothesis that the spread of the 2 proteins is driven by different biological mechanisms related to functional networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1693-1706
Number of pages14
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • amyloid
  • functional connectivity
  • tau
  • trans-neuronal spread

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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