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The core Alzheimer's disease (AD) cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers; amyloid-β (Aß), total tau (t-tau), and phosphorylated tau (p-tau181), are strong indicators of the presence of AD pathology, but do not correlate well with disease progression, and can be difficult to implement in longitudinal studies where repeat biofluid sampling is required. As a result, blood-based biomarkers are increasingly being sought as alternatives. In this study, we aimed to evaluate a promising blood biomarker discovery technology, Olink Proximity Extension Assays for technical reproducibility characteristics in order to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of using this technology in biomarker discovery in AD. We evaluated the performance of five Olink Proteomic multiplex proximity extension assays (PEA) in plasma samples. Three technical control samples included on each plate allowed calculation of technical variability. Biotemporal stability was measured in three sequential annual samples from 54 individuals with and without AD. Coefficients of variation (CVs), analysis of variance (ANOVA), and variance component analyses were used to quantify technical and individual variation over time. We show that overall, Olink assays are technically robust, with the largest experimental variation stemming from biological differences between individuals for most analytes. As a powerful illustration of one of the potential pitfalls of using a multi-plexed technology for discovery, we performed power calculations using the baseline samples to demonstrate the size of study required to overcome the need for multiple test correction with this technology. We show that the power of moderate effect size proteins was strongly reduced, and as a result investigators should strongly consider pooling resources to perform larger studies using this multiplexed technique where possible.

Original publication




Journal article


Frontiers in Neurology

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