Postoperative changes in cognition and cerebrospinal fluid neurodegenerative disease biomarkers.
OBJECTIVE: Numerous investigators have theorized that postoperative changes in Alzheimer's disease neuropathology may underlie postoperative neurocognitive disorders. Thus, we determined the relationship between postoperative changes in cognition and cerebrospinal (CSF) tau, p-tau-181p, or Aβ levels after non-cardiac, non-neurologic surgery in older adults. METHODS: Participants underwent cognitive testing before and 6 weeks after surgery, and lumbar punctures before, 24 h after, and 6 weeks after surgery. Cognitive scores were combined via factor analysis into an overall cognitive index. In total, 110 patients returned for 6-week postoperative testing and were included in the analysis. RESULTS: There was no significant change from before to 24 h or 6 weeks following surgery in CSF tau (median [median absolute deviation] change before to 24 h: 0.00 [4.36] pg/mL, p = 0.853; change before to 6 weeks: -1.21 [3.98] pg/mL, p = 0.827). There were also no significant changes in CSF p-tau-181p or Aβ over this period. There was no change in cognitive index (mean [95% CI] 0.040 [-0.018, 0.098], p = 0.175) from before to 6 weeks after surgery, although there were postoperative declines in verbal memory (-0.346 [-0.523, -0.170], p = 0.003) and improvements in executive function (0.394, [0.310, 0.479], p < 0.001). There were no significant correlations between preoperative to 6-week postoperative changes in cognition and CSF tau, p-tau-181p, or Aβ42 changes over this interval (p > 0.05 for each). INTERPRETATION: Neurocognitive changes after non-cardiac, non-neurologic surgery in the majority of cognitively healthy, community-dwelling older adults are unlikely to be related to postoperative changes in AD neuropathology (as assessed by CSF Aβ, tau or p-tau-181p levels or the p-tau-181p/Aβ or tau/Aβ ratios). TRIAL REGISTRATION: clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01993836).