Early identification of cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease (PD) has important clinical and research implications. The aim of our study was to investigate the role of plasma tau phosphorylated at amino acid 181 (p-tau181) and plasma neurofilament light chain (NfL) as biomarkers of cognition in PD. Baseline concentrations of plasma p-tau181 and NfL were measured in a cohort of 136 patients with PD and 63 healthy controls (HC). Forty-seven PD patients were followed up for up to 2 years. Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between baseline plasma biomarkers and cognitive progression were investigated using linear regression and linear mixed effects models. At baseline, plasma p-tau181 concentration was significantly higher in PD subjects compared with HC (p = 0.026). In PD patients, higher plasma NfL was associated with lower MMSE score at baseline, after adjusting for age, sex and education (p = 0.027). Baseline plasma NfL also predicted MMSE decline over time in the PD group (p = 0.020). No significant association between plasma p-tau181 concentration and baseline or longitudinal cognitive performance was found. While the role of p-tau181 as a diagnostic biomarker for PD and its relationship with cognition need further elucidation, plasma NfL may serve as a feasible, non-invasive biomarker of cognitive progression in PD.

Plasma p-tau181, neurofilament light chain and association with cognition in Parkinson’s disease | npj Parkinson’s Disease (nature.com)