Tau-positron emission tomography correlates with neuropathology findings

Val J. Lowe, Emily S. Lundt, Sabrina M. Albertson, Hoon Ki Min, Ping Fang, Scott A. Przybelski, Matthew L. Senjem, Christopher G. Schwarz, Kejal Kantarci, Bradley Boeve, David T. Jones, R. Ross Reichard, Jessica F. Tranovich, Fadi S. Hanna Al-Shaikh, David S. Knopman, Clifford R. Jack, Dennis W. Dickson, Ronald C. Petersen, Melissa E. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Introduction: Comparison of tau (flortaucipir) positron emission tomography (FTP-PET) to autopsy is important to demonstrate the relationship of FTP-PET to neuropathologic findings. Methods: Autopsies were performed on 26 participants who had antemortem FTP-PET. FTP-PET standardized uptake value ratios (SUVRs) were compared to autopsy diagnoses and Braak tangle stage. Quantitative tau burden was compared to regional FTP-PET signal. Results: Participants with Braak stages of IV or greater had elevated FTP-PET signal. FTP-PET was elevated in participants with Alzheimer's disease. An FTP-PET SUVR cut point of 1.29 was determined to be optimal. Quantitative measurements of hippocampal and temporal lobe tau burden were highly correlated to FTP-PET signal (rho's from 0.61 to 0.70, P ≤.02). Discussion: Elevated FTP-PET reflects Braak IV or greater neuropathology. Participants with primary age-related tauopathy and hippocampal sclerosis did not show elevated FTP-PET signal. Secondary neuropathologic diagnoses of Alzheimer's disease neuropathologic change can lead to borderline elevated FTP-PET signal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-571
Number of pages11
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Autopsy
  • Braak tangle stage
  • PET
  • Tau
  • flortaucipir

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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