Immunomagnetic reduction (IMR), which involves the use of antibody-functionalized magnetic nanoparticles to specifically label target biomarkers, was utilized to develop an assay for total tau protein in human plasma. The analytic properties of the IMR assay on tau protein were investigated. The limit of detection was found to be 0.026 pg/ml. Other properties such as Hook effect, assay linearity, dilution recovery range, reagent stability, interference test, and spiked recovery were also characterized. The ultra-sensitive IMR assay was applied to detect the plasma tau protein levels of subjects with prevalent neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to AD, Parkinson's disease (PD), frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and vascular dementia (VD). The concentrations of plasma tau protein in patients with VD, PD, MCI due to AD, FTD, and AD patients were higher than that of healthy controls. Using an ROC curve analysis, the cutoff value for discriminating dementia patients from healthy controls was 17.43 pg/ml, resulting in 0.856 and 0.727 for clinical sensitivity and specificity, respectively. The area under the ROC curve was 0.908. These results imply that the IMR plasma tau assay would be useful to screen for prevalent neurodegenerative diseases.
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