Regional tau pathology and loneliness in cognitively normal older adults

Federico d'Oleire Uquillas, Heidi I. L. Jacobs, Kelsey D. Biddle, Michael Properzi, Bernard Hanseeuw, Aaron P. Schultz, Dorene M. Rentz, Keith A. Johnson, Reisa A. Sperling, Nancy J. Donovan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Loneliness is a perception of social and emotional isolation that increases in prevalence among older adults during the eighth decade of life. Loneliness has been associated with higher brain amyloid-beta deposition, a biologic marker of Alzheimer's disease, in cognitively normal older adults, suggesting a link with preclinical Alzheimer's disease pathophysiology. This study examined whether greater loneliness was associated with tau pathology, the other defining feature of Alzheimer's disease, in 117 cognitively normal older adults. Using flortaucipir positron emission tomography, we measured tau pathology in the entorhinal cortex, a region of initial accumulation in aging adults with or without elevated amyloid-beta, and in the inferior temporal cortex, a region of early accumulation typically associated with elevated amyloid-beta and memory impairment. Loneliness was measured by self-report using the 3-item UCLA-loneliness scale. We found that higher tau pathology in the right entorhinal cortex was associated with greater loneliness, controlling for age, sex, and apolipoprotein E epsilon 4, the Alzheimer's disease genetic risk marker. This association remained significant after further adjustment for socioeconomic status, social network, depression and anxiety scores, and memory performance. There was no association of inferior temporal cortical or left entorhinal tau pathology with loneliness. Exploratory whole-brain surface maps supported these findings and identified additional clusters correlating loneliness and tau in the right fusiform gyrus. These results provide further support for loneliness as a socioemotional symptom in preclinical Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number282
Number of pages9
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2018




Dive into the research topics of 'Regional tau pathology and loneliness in cognitively normal older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this