We aimed to evaluate the diagnostic role of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) biomarkers in tears as well as their association with retinal and choroidal microstructures. In a cross-sectional study, 35 subjects (age 71.7 ± 6.9 years) were included: 11 with prodromal AD (MCI), 10 with mild-to-moderate AD, and 14 healthy controls. The diagnosis of AD and MCI was confirmed according to a complete neuropsychological evaluation and PET or MRI imaging. After tear sample collection, β-amyloid peptide Aβ1-42 concentration was analyzed using ELISA, whereas C-terminal fragments of the amyloid precursor protein (APP-CTF) and phosphorylated tau (p-tau) were assessed by Western blot. Retinal layers and choroidal thickness (CT) were acquired by spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT). Aβ1-42 levels in tears were able to detect both MCI and AD patients with a specificity of 93% and a sensitivity of 81% (AUC = 0.91). Tear levels of Aβ1-42 were lower, both in the MCI (p < 0.01) and in the AD group (p < 0.001) when compared to healthy controls. Further, Aβ1-42 was correlated with psychometric scores (p < 0.001) and CT (p < 0.01). CT was thinner in the affected patients (p = 0.035). No differences were observed for APP-CTF and p-tau relative abundance in tears. Testing Aβ1-42 levels in tears seems to be a minimally invasive, cost-saving method for early detection and diagnosis of AD.
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