Tau proteins are central to the neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease and tau levels in cerebrospinal fluid are elevated in affected individuals. In this study, we investigated the presence of tau in plasma from subjects with Alzheimer’s disease (n = 16), frontotemporal dementia (n = 10), vascular dementia (n = 16) and from healthy controls (n = 15). By using an ELISA with monoclonal tau antibodies, tau immunoreactivity was detected in approximately 20% of the subjects. However, no difference between the disease and control groups was seen. After gel filtration of tau immunopositive plasma, the peak reactivity was found in the 160-kD fraction, indicating the source to be tau-like molecules of high-molecular-weight or polymers of low-molecular-weight tau isoforms. We conclude that measurements of tau in plasma cannot be utilized diagnostically for Alzheimer’s disease or for the other dementias investigated.

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