Morphometric imaging biomarker identifies Alzheimer’s disease even among mixed dementia patients

Florin V. Chirila, Guang Xu, Dan Fontaine, Grant Kern, Tapan K. Khan, Jason Brandt, Yoshihiro Konishi, Gerhard Nebe-von-Caron, Charles L. White, Daniel L. Alkon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), even in the presence of co-morbid neuropathology (occurring in > 50% of AD cases), is a significant unmet medical need that has obstructed the discovery of effective AD therapeutics. An AD-biomarker, the Morphometric Imaging (MI) assay on cultured skin fibroblasts, was used in a double-blind, allcomers (ages 55–90) trial of 3 patient cohorts: AD dementia patients, N = 25, all autopsy confirmed, non-AD dementia patients, N = 21—all autopsy or genetically confirmed; and non-demented control (AHC) patients N = 27. Fibroblasts cells isolated from 3-mm skin punch biopsies were cultured on a 3-D Matrigel matrix with movement dynamics quantified by image analysis. From counts of all aggregates (N) in a pre-defined field image and measures of the average area (A) of aggregates per image, the number-to-area ratios in a natural logarithmic form Ln(A/N) were determined for all patient samples. AD cell lines formed fewer large aggregates (cells clustered together) than non-AD or AHC cell lines. The cut-off value of Ln(A/N) = 6.98 was determined from the biomarker values of non-demented apparently healthy control (AHC) cases. Unequivocal validation by autopsy, genetics, and/or dementia criteria was possible for all 73 patient samples. The samples were collected from multiple centers—four US centers and one center in Japan. The study found no effect of center-to-center variation in fibroblast isolation, cell growth, or cell aggregation values (Ln(A/N)). The autopsy-confirmed MI Biomarker distinguished AD from non-AD dementia (non-ADD) patients and correctly diagnosed AD even in the presence of other co-morbid pathologies at autopsy (True Positive = 25, False Negative = 0, False Positive = 0, True Negative = 21, and Accuracy = 100%. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated as 100% (95% CI = 84 to 100.00%). From these findings, the MI assay appears to detect AD with great accuracy—even with abundant co-morbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17675
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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