Functional brain architecture is associated with the rate of tau accumulation in Alzheimer’s disease
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In Alzheimer’s diseases (AD), tau pathology is strongly associated with cognitive decline. Preclinical evidence suggests that tau spreads across connected neurons in an activity-dependent manner. Supporting this, cross-sectional AD studies show that tau deposition patterns resemble functional brain networks. However, whether higher functional connectivity is associated with higher rates of tau accumulation is unclear. Here, we combine resting-state fMRI with longitudinal tau-PET in two independent samples including 53 (ADNI) and 41 (BioFINDER) amyloid-biomarker defined AD subjects and 28 (ADNI) vs. 16 (BioFINDER) amyloid-negative healthy controls. In both samples, AD subjects show faster tau accumulation than controls. Second, in AD, higher fMRI-assessed connectivity between 400 regions of interest (ROIs) is associated with correlated tau-PET accumulation in corresponding ROIs. Third, we show that a model including baseline connectivity and tau-PET is associated with future tau-PET accumulation. Together, connectivity is associated with tau spread in AD, supporting the view of transneuronal tau propagation.