High content, multi-parameter analyses in buccal cells to identify alzheimer’s disease

Maxime François, Michael Felix Fenech, Philip Thomas, Maryam Hor, Alan R. Rembach, Ralph N. Martins, Stephanie R. Rainey-Smith, Colin L. Masters, David J. Ames, Christopher C. Rowe, S. Lance Macaulay, Andrew F. Hill, Wayne Richard Leifert, Arti Appannah, Mary B. Barnes, Kevin Jeffrey Barnham, Justin Bedo, Shayne A. Bellingham, Lynette Bon, Pierrick T. BourgeatBelinda Brown, Rachel F. Buckley, Samantha C. Burnham, Ashley I. Bush, Graeme Chandler, Karren Chen, Roger M. Clarnette, Steven John Collins, Ian Cooke, Tiffany Frances Cowie, Kay L. Cox, Emily Cuningham, Elizabeth V. Cyarto, Phuong Anh Dang, David G. Darby, Patricia M. Desmond, James D. Doecke, Vincent Doré, Harriet Downing, Belinda A. Dridan, Konsta R. Duesing, Michael Fahey, Maree Farrow, Noel G. Faux, Shane Fernandez, Warnakulasuriya M.A.D.B. Fernando, Christopher J. Fowler, Jürgen Fripp, Shaun M. Frost, Samantha L. Gardener, Simon Gibson, Petra L. Graham, Veer Bala Gupta, David Hansen, Karra D. Harrington, Eugene Hone, Malcolm Kenneth Horne, Brenda Huckstepp, Andrew W. Jones, Gareth R. Jones, Adrian Kamer, Yogesan Kanagasingam, Lisa Keam, Adam Kowalczyk, Betty Krivdic, C. Peng Lam, Fiona Lamb, Nicola T. Lautenschlager, Simon M. Laws, Nat P. Lenzo, Hugo Leroux, Falak Lftikhar, Qiaoxin Li, Florence Lim, Lucy Lim, Linda Jane Lockett, Kathy Lucas, Mark Mano, Caroline Marczak, Georgia Martins, Paul T. Maruff, Yumiko Matsumoto, Sabine M. Bird, Simon J. McBride, Rachel McKay, Rachel S. Mulligan, Tabitha Nash, Julie Nigro, Graeme O'Keefe, Kevin T. Ong, Bernadette Parker, Steve Pedrini, Jeremiah J. Peiffer, Sveltana Pejoska, Lisa Penny, Keyla A. Perez, Kelly Kathleen Pertile, Pramit M. Phal, Tenielle Porter, Parnesh Raniga, Carolina Restrepo, Malcolm Riley, Blaine R. Roberts, Joanne S. Robertson, Mark A. Rodrigues, Alicia C. Rooney, Rebecca L. Rumble, Timothy M. Ryan, Olivier Salvado, Mathew Samuel, Ian W. Saunders, Gregory R. Savage, Brendan S. Silbert, Hamid R. Sohrabi, Julie A. Syrette, Cassandra Szoeke, Kevin Taddei, Tania Taddei, Sherilyn Tan, Michelle L. Tegg, Darshan Trivedi, Brett O. Trounson, Robyn Veljanovski, Giuseppe Verdile, Victor L. Villemagne, Irene Volitakis, Cassandra Vockler, Michael Vovos, Freda Vrantsidis, Stacey Walker, Andrew D. Watt, Michael Weinborn, Bill Wilson, Michael Clifford Woodward., Olga Yastrubetskaya, Paul A. Yates, Ping Zhang, Pratishtha Chatterjee, Rhona Creegan, Karl de Ruyck, Hang Ding, David M. Groth, Richard J. Head, Debra Krause, Rebecca Lachovitzki, Yen Ying Lim, Teresa Lintern, Alinda Mondal, Stewart D. Nuttall, Nathan J. O'Callaghan, Lisa Osborne, Chaoyi Pang, Glen Stephen Patten, Alison Tuckfield, Joseph N. Varghese, Andrea C. Wilson, Qing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a degenerative brain disorder and is the most common form of dementia. Minimally invasive approaches are required that combine biomarkers to identify individuals who are at risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD, to appropriately target clinical trials for therapeutic discovery as well as lifestyle strategies aimed at prevention. Buccal mucosa cells from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle Flagship Study of Ageing cohort (n=60) were investigated for cytological markers that could be used to identify both MCI and AD individuals. Visual scoring of the buccal cytome demonstrated a significantly lower frequency of basal and karyorrhectic cells in the MCI group compared with controls. A high content, automated assay was developed using laser scanning cytometry to simultaneously measure cell types, nuclear DNA content and aneuploidy, neutral lipid content, putative Tau and amyloid-β (Aβ) in buccal cells. DNA content, aneuploidy, neutral lipids and Tau were similar in all groups. However, there was significantly lower Tau protein in both basal and karyolytic buccal cell types compared with differentiated buccal cells. Aβ, as measured by frequency of cells containing Aβ signal, as well as area and integral of Aβ signal, was significantly higher in the AD group compared with the control group. Buccal cell Aβ was correlated with mini-mental state examination (MMSE) scores (r = -0.436, P=0.001) and several blood-based biomarkers. Combining newly identified biomarkers from buccal cells with those already established may offer a potential route for more specific biomarker panels which may substantially increase the likelihood of better predictive markers for earlier diagnosis of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)787-799
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Alzheimer Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid
  • Buccal cells
  • DNA content
  • Laser scanning cytometry
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Neutral lipids


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