The purpose of this study was to use serial imaging to gain insight into the sequence of pathologic events in Alzheimer's disease, and the clinical features associated with this sequence. We measured change in amyloid deposition over time using serial 11C Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) positron emission tomography and progression of neurodegeneration using serial structural magnetic resonance imaging. We studied 21 healthy cognitively normal subjects, 32 with amnestic mild cognitive impairment and 8 with Alzheimer's disease. Subjects were drawn from two sources—ongoing longitudinal registries at Mayo Clinic, and the Alzheimer's disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). All subjects underwent clinical assessments, MRI and PIB studies at two time points, approximately one year apart. PIB retention was quantified in global cortical to cerebellar ratio units and brain atrophy in units of cm3 by measuring ventricular expansion. The annual change in global PIB retention did not differ by clinical group (P = 0.90), and although small (median 0.042 ratio units/year overall) was greater than zero among all subjects (P < 0.001). Ventricular expansion rates differed by clinical group (P < 0.001) and increased in the following order: cognitively normal (1.3 cm3/year) < amnestic mild cognitive impairment (2.5 cm3/year) < Alzheimer's disease (7.7 cm3/year). Among all subjects there was no correlation between PIB change and concurrent change on CDR-SB (r = −0.01, P = 0.97) but some evidence of a weak correlation with MMSE (r =−0.22, P = 0.09). In contrast, greater rates of ventricular expansion were clearly correlated with worsening concurrent change on CDR-SB (r = 0.42, P < 0.01) and MMSE (r =−0.52, P < 0.01). Our data are consistent with a model of typical late onset Alzheimer's disease that has two main features: (i) dissociation between the rate of amyloid deposition and the rate of neurodegeneration late in life, with amyloid deposition proceeding at a constant slow rate while neurodegeneration accelerates and (ii) clinical symptoms are coupled to neurodegeneration not amyloid deposition. Significant plaque deposition occurs prior to clinical decline. The presence of brain amyloidosis alone is not sufficient to produce cognitive decline, rather, the neurodegenerative component of Alzheimer's disease pathology is the direct substrate of cognitive impairment and the rate of cognitive decline is driven by the rate of neurodegeneration. Neurodegeneration (atrophy on MRI) both precedes and parallels cognitive decline. This model implies a complimentary role for MRI and PIB imaging in Alzheimer's disease, with each reflecting one of the major pathologies, amyloid dysmetabolism and neurodegeneration.
Alzheimer's disease; amyloid imaging; magnetic resonance imaging, longitudinal imaging; mild cognitive impairment; Pittsburgh compound B
Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are commonly used to treat patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. Hippocampal atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging and amyloid-β load on positron emission tomography are associated with the Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. To date, few studies have investigated imaging markers that predict treatment response in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. Our objective was to determine whether imaging markers of Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology such as hippocampal volume, brain amyloid-β load on 11C Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography predict treatment response to acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. We performed a retrospective analysis on consecutive treatment-naive patients with dementia with Lewy bodies (n = 54) from the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre who subsequently received acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and underwent magnetic resonance imaging with hippocampal volumetry. Baseline and follow-up assessments were obtained with the Mattis Dementia Rating Scale. Subjects were divided into three groups (reliable improvement, stable or reliable decline) using Dementia Rating Scale reliable change indices determined previously. Associations between hippocampal volumes and treatment response were tested with analysis of covariance adjusting for baseline Dementia Rating Scale, age, gender, magnetic resonance field strength and Dementia Rating Scale interval. Seven subjects underwent 11C Pittsburgh compound B imaging within 12 weeks of magnetic resonance imaging. Global cortical 11C Pittsburgh compound B retention (scaled to cerebellar retention) was calculated in these patients. Using a conservative psychometric method of assessing treatment response, there were 12 patients with reliable decline, 29 stable cases and 13 patients with reliable improvement. The improvers had significantly larger hippocampi than those that declined (P = 0.02) and the stable (P = 0.04) group. An exploratory analysis demonstrated larger grey matter volumes in the temporal and parietal lobes in improvers compared with those who declined (P < 0.05). The two patients who had a positive 11C Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography scan declined and those who had a negative 11C Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography scan improved or were stable after treatment. Patients with dementia with Lewy bodies who do not have the imaging features of coexistent Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology are more likely to cognitively improve with acetylcholinesterase inhibitor treatment.
dementia with Lewy bodies; acetylcholinesterase inhibitors; MRI; PiB; PET; amyloid
To assess whether family history (FH) of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) alone influences AD biomarker abnormalities.
Adult Children Study (ACS).
Washington University's Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.
Cognitively normal middle to older age individuals with and without a FH for AD (n=269).
Main Outcome Measures
Clinical and cognitive measures, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based brain volumes, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)-based white matter microstructure, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers, and molecular imaging of cerebral fibrillar amyloid with positron emission tomography (PET) using the [11C] benzothiazole tracer, Pittsburgh Compound-B (PIB).
A positive FH for AD was associated with an age-related decrease of CSF Aβ42; the ε4 allele of apolipoprotein E (APOE4) did not alter this effect. Age-adjusted CSF Aβ42 was decreased for individuals with APOE4 compared with those without, and the decrease was larger for individuals with a positive FH compared with those without. The variation of CSF tau and PIB mean cortical binding potential (MCBP) increased by age. For individuals younger than 55, an age-related increase in MCBP was associated with APOE4, but not FH. For individuals older than 55, a positive FH and a positive APOE4 implied the fastest age-related increase in MCBP. A positive FH was associated with decreased fractional anisotropy from DTI in the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum.
Independent of APOE4, FH is associated with age-related change of several CSF, PIB and DTI biomarkers in cognitively normal middle to older age individuals, suggesting that non-APOE susceptibility genes for AD influence AD biomarkers.
Patients with mild cognitive impairment are at an increased risk of progression to Alzheimer's disease. However, not all patients with mild cognitive impairment progress, and it is difficult to accurately identify those patients who are in the prodromal stage of Alzheimer's disease. In a recent paper, Koivunen and colleagues report that Pittsburgh compound-B, an amyloid-beta positron emission tomography ligand, predicts the progression of patients with mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease. Of 29 subjects with mild cognitive impairment, 21 (72%) had a positive Pittsburgh compound-B positron emission tomography baseline scan. In their study, 15 of these 21 (71%) patients progressed to Alzheimer's disease, whilst only 1 out of 8 (12.5%) Pittsburgh compound-B-negative patients with mild cognitive impairment did so. Moreover, in these mild cognitive impairment patients, the overall amyloid burden increased approximately 2.5% during the follow-up period. This is consistent with other longitudinal amyloid imaging studies that found a similar increase in amyloid deposition over time in patients with mild cognitive impairment. These studies together challenge current theories that propose a flattening of the increase of brain amyloid deposition already in the preclinical stage of Alzheimer's disease. These findings may have important implications for the design of future clinical trials aimed at preventing progression to Alzheimer's disease by lowering the brain amyloid-beta burden in patients with mild cognitive impairment.
Beta-amyloid (Aβ) is a histopathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease dementia, but high levels of Aβ in the brain can also be found in a substantial proportion of nondemented subjects. Here we investigated which 2-year rate of brain and cognitive changes are present in nondemented subjects with high and low Aβ levels, as assessed with cerebrospinal fluid and molecular positron emission tomography (PET)–based biomarkers of Aβ. In subjects with mild cognitive impairment, increased brain Aβ levels were associated with significantly faster cognitive decline, progression of gray matter atrophy within temporal and parietal brain regions, and a trend for a faster decline in parietal Fludeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET metabolism. Changes in gray matter and FDG-PET mediated the association between Aβ and cognitive decline. In contrast, elderly cognitively healthy controls (HC) with high Aβ levels showed only a faster medial temporal lobe and precuneus volume decline compared with HC with low Aβ. In conclusion, the current results suggest not only that both functional and volumetric brain changes are associated with high Aβ years before the onset of dementia but also that HC with substantial Aβ levels show higher Aβ pathology resistance, lack other pathologies that condition neurotoxic effects of Aβ, or accumulated Aβ for a shorter time period.
Aβ; FDG-PET; MCI; PIB-PET
Amyloid-β accumulation in the brain is thought to be one of the earliest events in Alzheimer’s disease, possibly leading to synaptic dysfunction, neurodegeneration and cognitive/functional decline. The earliest detectable changes seen with neuroimaging appear to be amyloid-β accumulation detected by 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography imaging. However, some individuals tolerate high brain amyloid-β loads without developing symptoms, while others progressively decline, suggesting that events in the brain downstream from amyloid-β deposition, such as regional brain atrophy rates, play an important role. The main purpose of this study was to understand the relationship between the regional distributions of increased amyloid-β and the regional distribution of increased brain atrophy rates in patients with mild cognitive impairment. To simultaneously capture the spatial distributions of amyloid-β and brain atrophy rates, we employed the statistical concept of parallel independent component analysis, an effective method for joint analysis of multimodal imaging data. Parallel independent component analysis identified significant relationships between two patterns of amyloid-β deposition and atrophy rates: (i) increased amyloid-β burden in the left precuneus/cuneus and medial-temporal regions was associated with increased brain atrophy rates in the left medial-temporal and parietal regions; and (ii) in contrast, increased amyloid-β burden in bilateral precuneus/cuneus and parietal regions was associated with increased brain atrophy rates in the right medial temporal regions. The spatial distribution of increased amyloid-β and the associated spatial distribution of increased brain atrophy rates embrace a characteristic pattern of brain structures known for a high vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease pathology, encouraging for the use of 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography measures as early indicators of Alzheimer’s disease. These results may begin to shed light on the mechanisms by which amyloid-β deposition leads to neurodegeneration and cognitive decline and the development of a more specific Alzheimer’s disease-specific imaging signature for diagnosis and use of this knowledge in the development of new anti-therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.
MRI; 11C-PiB PET; Alzheimer’s disease; mild cognitive impairment; amyloid-β; amyloid; brain atrophy rate; multimodal brain imaging
The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) beginning in October 2004, is a 6-year re-search project that studies changes of cognition, function, brain structure and function, and biomarkers in elderly controls, subjects with mild cognitive impairment, and subjects with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A major goal is to determine and validate MRI, PET images, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)/blood biomarkers as predictors and outcomes for use in clinical trials of AD treatments. Structural MRI, FDG PET, C-11 Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) PET, CSF measurements of amyloid β (Aβ) and species of tau, with clinical/cognitive measurements were performed on elderly controls, subjects with mild cognitive impairment, and subjects with AD. Structural MRI shows high rates of brain atrophy, and has high statistical power for determining treatment effects. FDG PET, C-11 Pittsburgh compound B PET, and CSF measurements of Aβ and tau were significant predictors of cognitive decline and brain atrophy. All data are available at UCLA/LONI/ADNI, without embargo. ADNI-like projects started in Australia, Europe, Japan, and Korea. ADNI provides significant new information concerning the progression of AD.
ADNI; Alzheimer’s disease; MRI; PET; Amyloid; Memory; Tau
With the advent of advances in biomarker detection and neuropsychological measurement, prospects have improved for identifying and tracking the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD) from its earliest stages through dementia. While new diagnostic techniques have exciting implications for initiating treatment earlier in the disease process, much work remains to be done to optimize the contributions of the expanding range of tools at the disposal of researchers and clinicians. The present paper examines recent work in cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, neuropsychological measures, and functional assessment. The strengths and weaknesses of current methodologies are explored and discussed. It is concluded that AD from its mild cognitive impairment state through dementia represents a continuous process, and that progression over time can best be accomplished by interval-level variables. Biomarkers that are most sensitive to early AD may not be the most optimal for monitoring longitudinal change, and it is likely that multivariate models incorporating cognitive measures, functional variables and biomarker data will be the most fruitful avenues for future research.
The increasing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and the devastating consequences of late-life dementia motivates the drive to develop diagnostic biomarkers to reliably identify the pathology associated with this disorder. Strategies to accomplish this include the detection of altered levels of tau and amyloid in cerebrospinal fluid, the use of structural MRI to identify disease-specific patterns of regional atrophy and MRI T1ρ to detect disease-related macromolecular protein aggregation, and the direct imaging of amyloid deposits using positron emission tomography and single photon emission computerized tomography. Success will facilitate the ability to reliably diagnose Alzheimer’s disease while the symptoms of brain failure are mild and may provide objective measures of disease-modifying treatment efficacy.
Biomarkers; Alzheimer’s disease; Diagnosis; Neurodegenerative disease
To characterize rates of regional Alzheimer disease (AD)–specific brain atrophy across the presymptomatic, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia stages.
Multicenter case-control study of neuroimaging, cerebrospinal fluid, and cognitive test score data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.
Research centers across the United States and Canada.
We examined a total of 317 participants with base-line cerebrospinal fluid biomarker measurements and 3T1-weighted magnetic resonance images obtained within 1 year.
Main Outcome Measures
We used automated tools to compute annual longitudinal atrophy in the hippocampus and cortical regions targeted in AD. We used Mini-Mental State Examination scores as a measure of cognitive performance. We performed a cross-subject analysis of atrophy rates and acceleration on individuals with an AD-like cerebrospinal fluid molecular profile.
In presymptomatic individuals harboring indicators of AD, baseline thickness in AD-vulnerable cortical regions was significantly reduced compared with that of healthy control individuals, but baseline hippocampal volume was not. Across the clinical spectrum, rates of AD-specific cortical thinning increased with decreasing cognitive performance before peaking at approximately the Mini-Mental State Examination score of 21, beyond which rates of thinning started to decline. Annual rates of hippocampal volume loss showed a continuously increasing pattern with decreasing cognitive performance as low as the Mini-Mental State Examination score of 15. Analysis of the second derivative of imaging measurements revealed that AD-specific cortical thinning exhibited early acceleration followed by deceleration. Conversely, hippocampal volume loss exhibited positive acceleration across all study participants.
Alzheimer disease–specific cortical thinning and hippocampal volume loss are consistent with a sigmoidal pattern, with an acceleration phase during the early stages of the disease. Clinical trials should carefully consider the nonlinear behavior of these AD biomarkers.
To determine whether preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD), as detected by the amyloid imaging agent Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB) in cognitively normal older adults, is associated with risk of symptomatic AD.
A longitudinal cohort study of cognitively normal older adults assessed with positron emission tomography (PET) to determine the mean cortical binding potential for PIB and followed with annual clinical and cognitive assessments for progression to very mild dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT).
Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
One hundred and fifty-nine participants with mean age of 71.5 y in a longitudinal study of memory and aging had a PET PIB scan when cognitively normal with Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) of 0.
Progression from CDR 0 status to CDR 0.5 (very mild dementia).
Twenty-three participants progressed to CDR 0.5 at follow-up assessment (range: 1–5 assessments after PET PIB). Of these, 9 also were diagnosed with DAT. Higher MCBP values for PIB (hazard ratio 4.85, 95% CI, 1.22–19.01, p = .02) and age (hazard ratio 1.14, 95% CI 1.02–1.28, p = .03) predicted progression to CDR 0.5 DAT. The CDR 0.5 DAT group showed decline in three cognitive domains (episodic memory, semantic memory, and visuospatial performance) and had volume loss in the parahippocampal gyrus (includes entorhinal cortex) compared with individuals who remained CDR 0.
Preclinical AD, as detected by PET PIB, is not benign as it is associated with progression to symptomatic AD.
The objective of this study was to investigate how a measure of educational and occupational attainment, a component of cognitive reserve, modifies the relationship between biomarkers of pathology and cognition in Alzheimer's disease. The biomarkers evaluated quantified neurodegeneration via atrophy on magnetic resonance images, neuronal injury via cerebral spinal fluid t-tau, brain amyloid-β load via cerebral spinal fluid amyloid-β1–42 and vascular disease via white matter hyperintensities on T2/proton density magnetic resonance images. We included 109 cognitively normal subjects, 192 amnestic patients with mild cognitive impairment and 98 patients with Alzheimer's disease, from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative study, who had undergone baseline lumbar puncture and magnetic resonance imaging. We combined patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease in a group labelled ‘cognitively impaired’ subjects. Structural Abnormality Index scores, which reflect the degree of Alzheimer's disease-like anatomic features on magnetic resonance images, were computed for each subject. We assessed Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (cognitive behaviour section) and mini-mental state examination scores as measures of general cognition and Auditory–Verbal Learning Test delayed recall, Boston naming and Trails B scores as measures of specific domains in both groups of subjects. The number of errors on the American National Adult Reading Test was used as a measure of environmental enrichment provided by educational and occupational attainment, a component of cognitive reserve. We found that in cognitively normal subjects, none of the biomarkers correlated with the measures of cognition, whereas American National Adult Reading Test scores were significantly correlated with Boston naming and mini-mental state examination results. In cognitively impaired subjects, the American National Adult Reading Test and all biomarkers of neuronal pathology and amyloid load were independently correlated with all cognitive measures. Exceptions to this general conclusion were absence of correlation between cerebral spinal fluid amyloid-β1–42 and Boston naming and Trails B. In contrast, white matter hyperintensities were only correlated with Boston naming and Trails B results in the cognitively impaired. When all subjects were included in a flexible ordinal regression model that allowed for non-linear effects and interactions, we found that the American National Adult Reading Test had an independent additive association such that better performance was associated with better cognitive performance across the biomarker distribution. Our main conclusions included: (i) that in cognitively normal subjects, the variability in cognitive performance is explained partly by the American National Adult Reading Test and not by biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease pathology; (ii) in cognitively impaired subjects, the American National Adult Reading Test, biomarkers of neuronal pathology (structural magnetic resonance imaging and cerebral spinal fluid t-tau) and amyloid load (cerebral spinal fluid amyloid-β1–42) all independently explain variability in general cognitive performance; and (iii) that the association between cognition and the American National Adult Reading Test was found to be additive rather than to interact with biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease pathology.
Alzheimer's disease; mild cognitive impairment; CSF biomarkers; MRI; cognitive reserve
The accumulation of β-amyloid in the brain is an early event in Alzheimer’s disease. This study presents the first patient with Alzheimer’s disease who underwent positron emission tomography imaging with the amyloid tracer, Pittsburgh Compound B to visualize fibrillar β-amyloid in the brain. Here we relate the clinical progression, amyloid and functional brain positron emission tomography imaging with molecular neuropathological alterations at autopsy to gain new insight into the relationship between β-amyloid accumulation, inflammatory processes and the cholinergic neurotransmitter system in Alzheimer’s disease brain. The patient underwent positron emission tomography studies with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose three times (at ages 53, 56 and 58 years) and twice with Pittsburgh Compound B (at ages 56 and 58 years), prior to death at 61 years of age. The patient showed a pronounced decline in cerebral glucose metabolism and cognition during disease progression, while Pittsburgh Compound B retention remained high and stable at follow-up. Neuropathological examination of the brain at autopsy confirmed the clinical diagnosis of pure Alzheimer’s disease. A comprehensive neuropathological investigation was performed in nine brain regions to measure the regional distribution of β-amyloid, neurofibrillary tangles and the levels of binding of 3H-nicotine and 125I-α-bungarotoxin to neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes, 3H-L-deprenyl to activated astrocytes and 3H-PK11195 to microglia, as well as butyrylcholinesterase activity. Regional in vivo 11C-Pittsburgh Compound B-positron emission tomography retention positively correlated with 3H-Pittsburgh Compound B binding, total insoluble β-amyloid, and β-amyloid plaque distribution, but not with the number of neurofibrillary tangles measured at autopsy. There was a negative correlation between regional fibrillar β-amyloid and levels of 3H-nicotine binding. In addition, a positive correlation was found between regional 11C-Pittsburgh Compound B positron emission tomography retention and 3H-Pittsburgh Compound B binding with the number of glial fibrillary acidic protein immunoreactive cells, but not with 3H-L-deprenyl and 3H-PK-11195 binding. In summary, high 11C-Pittsburgh Compound B positron emission tomography retention significantly correlates with both fibrillar β-amyloid and losses of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes at autopsy, suggesting a closer involvement of β-amyloid pathology with neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes than with inflammatory processes.
Alzheimer’s disease; autopsy brain; 11C-PIB positron emission tomography; inflammation; nicotinic acetylcholine receptors
Although β-amyloid (Aβ) plaques are a primary diagnostic criterion for Alzheimer's disease, this pathology is commonly observed in the brains of non-demented older individuals. To explore the importance of this pathology in the absence of dementia, we compared levels of amyloid deposition (via ‘Pittsburgh Compound-B’ (PIB) positron emission tomography (PET) imaging) to hippocampus volume (HV) and episodic memory (EM) in three groups: (i) normal controls (NC) from the Berkeley Aging Cohort (BAC NC, n = 20); (ii) normal controls (NC) from the Alzheimer's disease neuroimaging initiative (ADNI NC, n = 17); and (iii) PIB+ mild cognitive impairment subjects from the ADNI (ADNI PIB+ MCI, n = 39). Age, gender and education were controlled for in each statistical model, and HV was adjusted for intracranial volume (aHV). In BAC NC, elevated PIB uptake was significantly associated with smaller aHV (P = 0.0016) and worse EM (P = 0.0086). Within ADNI NC, elevated PIB uptake was significantly associated with smaller aHV (P = 0.047) but not EM (P = 0.60); within ADNI PIB+ MCI, elevated PIB uptake was significantly associated with both smaller aHV (P = 0.00070) and worse EM (P = 0.046). To further understand these relationships, a recursive regression procedure was conducted within all ADNI NC and PIB+ MCI subjects (n = 56) to test the hypothesis that HV mediates the relationship between Aβ and EM. Significant correlations were found between PIB index and EM (P = 0.0044), PIB index and aHV (P < 0.0001), as well as between aHV and EM (P < 0.0001). When both aHV and PIB were included in the same model to predict EM, aHV remained significant (P = 0.0015) whereas PIB index was no longer significantly associated with EM (P = 0.50). These results are consistent with a model in which Aβ deposition, hippocampal atrophy, and EM occur sequentially in elderly subjects, with Aβ deposition as the primary event in this cascade. This pattern suggests that declining EM in older individuals may be caused by Aβ-induced hippocampus atrophy.
Pittsburgh Compound-B; magnetic resonance imaging; β-amyloid; hippocampus; preclinical Alzheimer's disease
Disruption of functional connectivity between brain regions may represent an early functional consequence of β-amyloid pathology prior to clinical Alzheimer's disease. We aimed to investigate if non-demented older individuals with increased amyloid burden demonstrate disruptions of functional whole-brain connectivity in cortical hubs (brain regions typically highly connected to multiple other brain areas) and if these disruptions are associated with neuronal dysfunction as measured with fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography. In healthy subjects without cognitive symptoms and patients with mild cognitive impairment, we used positron emission tomography to assess amyloid burden and cerebral glucose metabolism, structural magnetic resonance imaging to quantify atrophy and novel resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging processing methods to calculate whole-brain connectivity. Significant disruptions of whole-brain connectivity were found in amyloid-positive patients with mild cognitive impairment in typical cortical hubs (posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus), strongly overlapping with regional hypometabolism. Subtle connectivity disruptions and hypometabolism were already present in amyloid-positive asymptomatic subjects. Voxel-based morphometry measures indicate that these findings were not solely a consequence of regional atrophy. Whole-brain connectivity values and metabolism showed a positive correlation with each other and a negative correlation with amyloid burden. These results indicate that disruption of functional connectivity and hypometabolism may represent early functional consequences of emerging molecular Alzheimer's disease pathology, evolving prior to clinical onset of dementia. The spatial overlap between hypometabolism and disruption of connectivity in cortical hubs points to a particular susceptibility of these regions to early Alzheimer's-type neurodegeneration and may reflect a link between synaptic dysfunction and functional disconnection.
amyloid; cortical hubs; functional connectivity; metabolism; mild cognitive impairment; positron emission tomography; magnetic resonance imaging
Drug candidates targeting amyloid-β (Aβ) pathology in Alzheimer's disease are in different phases of clinical trials. These treatments will probably be most effective in the earlier stages of the disease, before neurodegeneration is too severe, but at the same time symptoms are vague and the clinical diagnosis is difficult. Recent research advances have resulted in promising biomarkers, including cerebrospinal fluid analyses for tau and Aβ, magnetic resonance imaging measurement of atrophy, and positron emission tomography imaging of glucose metabolism and Aβ pathology, which allow identification of prodromal Alzheimer's disease. More details are needed, however, on how these biomarkers can be standardized, to allow a general implementation in the clinical routine diagnostic work-up of patients with cognitive disturbances.
Screening tests for Alzheimer’s disease lack sensitivity and specificity. We developed the AD8, a brief dementia screening interview validated against clinical and cognitive evaluations, as an improvement over current screening methods. Because insufficient follow-up has occurred to validate the AD8 against the neuropathologic findings of Alzheimer’s disease, we investigated whether AD8 scores correspond to impairment in episodic memory testing and changes in biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (cerebrospinal fluid and amyloid imaging with Pittsburgh compound B) characteristic of symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease. We also compared informant-based assessments with brief performance-based dementia screening measurements such as the Mini Mental State Exam. The sample (n = 257) had a mean age of 75.4 years with 15.1 years of education; 88.7% were Caucasian and 45.5% were male. The sample was divided into two groups based on their AD8 scores: those with a negative dementia screening test (AD8 score 0 or 1, n = 137) and those with a positive dementia screening test (AD8 score ≥2, n = 120). Individuals with positive AD8 scores had abnormal Pittsburgh compound B binding (P < 0.001) and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers (P < 0.001) compared with individuals with negative AD8 scores. Individuals with positive AD8 tests and positive biomarkers scored in the impaired range on the Wechsler Logical Memory Story A (mean score 7.0 ± 4.5 for Pittsburgh compound B; mean score 7.6 ± 5.3 for cerebrospinal fluid amyloid beta protein 1–42). The AD8 area under the curve for Pittsburgh compound B was 0.737 (95% confidence interval: 0.64–0.83) and for cerebrospinal fluid amyloid beta protein 1–42 was 0.685 (95% confidence interval: 0.60–0.77) suggesting good discrimination. The AD8 had superior sensitivity in detecting early stages of dementia compared with the Mini Mental State Examination. The AD8 had a likelihood ratio of a positive test of 5.8 (95% confidence interval: 5.4–6.3) and likelihood ratio of a negative test of 0.04 (95% confidence interval: 0.03–0.06), increasing the pre-test probability of an individual having symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals with AD8 scores of ≥2 had a biomarker phenotype consistent with Alzheimer’s disease and lower performance on episodic memory tests, supporting a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Informant-based assessments may be superior to performance-based screening measures such as the Mini Mental State Examination in corresponding to underlying Alzheimer’s disease pathology, particularly at the earliest stages of decline. The use of a brief test such as the AD8 may improve strategies for detecting dementia in community settings where biomarkers may not be readily available, and may enrich clinical trial recruitment by increasing the likelihood that participants have underlying biomarker abnormalities.
AD8; Alzheimer’s disease; screening; biomarkers; preclinical; cognition
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) measures of Ab and tau, Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB) imaging and hippocampal atrophy are promising Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers yet the associations between them are not known. We applied a validated, automated hippocampal labeling method and 3D radial distance mapping to the 1.5T structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of 388 ADNI subjects with baseline CSF Ab42, total tau (t-tau) and phosphorylated tau (p-tau181) and 98 subjects with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging using PIB. We used linear regression to investigate associations between hippocampal atrophy and average cortical, parietal and precuneal PIB standardized uptake value ratio (SUVR) and CSF Ab42, t-tau, p-tau181, t-tau/Ab42 and p-tau181/Ab42. All CSF measures showed significant associations with hippocampal volume and radial distance in the pooled sample. Strongest correlations were seen for p-tau181, followed by p-tau181/Ab42 ratio, t-tau/Ab42 ratio, t-tau and Ab42. p-tau181 showed stronger correlation in ApoE4 carriers, while t-tau showed stronger correlation in ApoE4 noncarriers. Of the 3 PIB measures the precuneal SUVR showed strongest associations with hippocampal atrophy.
Alzheimer’s disease; MRI; Magnetic resonance imaging; Imaging; PIB; Amyloid imaging; Abeta; tau; Hippocampus; Atrophy; Biomarkers; ADNI
Objective: New diagnostic criteria for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been developed using biomarkers aiming to establish whether the clinical syndrome is likely due to underlying AD. We investigated the utility of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers in predicting progression from amnesic MCI to dementia, testing the hypotheses that (1) markers of amyloid and neurodegeneration provide distinct and complementary prognostic information over different time intervals, and that (2) evidence of neurodegeneration in amyloid-negative MCI individuals would be useful prognostically.
Methods: Data were obtained from the ADNI-1 (Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative Phase 1) database on all individuals with a baseline diagnosis of MCI, baseline MRI and CSF data, and at least one follow-up visit. MRI data were processed using a published set of a priori regions of interest to derive a measure known as the ``AD signature,'' as well as hippocampal volume. The CSF biomarkers amyloid-β, total tau, and phospho tau were also examined. We performed logistic regression analyses to identify the best baseline biomarker predictors of progression to dementia over 1 or 3 years, and Cox regression models to test the utility of these markers for predicting time-to-dementia.
Results: For prediction of dementia in MCI, the AD signature cortical thickness biomarker performed better than hippocampal volume. Although CSF tau measures were better than CSF amyloid-β at predicting dementia within 1 year, the AD signature was better than all CSF measures at prediction over this relatively short-term interval. CSF amyloid-β was superior to tau and AD signature at predicting dementia over 3 years. When CSF amyloid-β was dichotomized using previously published cutoff values and treated as a categorical variable, a multivariate stepwise Cox regression model indicated that both the AD signature MRI marker and the categorical CSF amyloid-β marker were useful in predicting time-to-event diagnosis of AD dementia.
Conclusion: In amnesic MCI, short-term (1 year) prognosis of progression to dementia relates strongly to baseline markers of neurodegeneration, with the AD signature MRI biomarker of cortical thickness performing the best among MRI and CSF markers studied here. Longer-term (3 year) prognosis in these individuals was better predicted by a marker indicative of brain amyloid. Prediction of time-to-event in a survival model was predicted by the combination of these biomarkers. These results provide further support for emerging models of the temporal relationship of pathophysiologic events in AD and demonstrate the utility of these biomarkers at the prodromal stage of the illness.
Alzheimer's disease; MRI; biomarkers; mild cognitive impairment; CSF biomarkers
This article introduces a hypometabolic convergence index (HCI) for the assessment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), compares it to other biological, cognitive and clinical measures, and demonstrate its promise to predict clinical decline in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) patients using data from the AD Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). The HCI is intended to reflect in a single measurement the extent to which the pattern and magnitude of cerebral hypometabolism in an individual’s fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) image corresponds to that in probable AD patients, and is generated using a fully automated voxel-based image analysis algorithm. HCIs, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) hippocampal volume measurements, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) assays, memory test scores, and clinical ratings were compared in 47 probable AD patients, 21 MCI patients who converted to probable AD within the next 18 months, 76 MCI patients who did not, and 47 normal controls (NCs) in terms of their ability to characterize clinical disease severity and predict conversion rates from MCI to probable AD. HCIs were significantly different in the probable AD, MCI converter, MCI stable and NC groups (p = 9e-17) and correlated with clinical disease severity. Using retrospectively characterized threshold criteria, MCI patients with either higher HCI’s or smaller hippocampal volumes had the highest hazard ratios (HRs) for 18-month progression to probable AD (7.38 and 6.34, respectively), and those with both had an even higher HR (36.72). In conclusion, the HCI, alone or in combination with certain other biomarker measurements, have the potential to help characterize AD and predict subsequent rates of clinical decline. More generally, our conversion index strategy could be applied to a range of imaging modalities and voxel-based image-analysis algorithms.
hypometabolic convergence index; Alzheimer’s disease; FDG; PET; MCI; hippocampal volume
Biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease (AD) are increasingly important. All modern AD therapeutic trials employ AD biomarkers in some capacity. In addition, AD biomarkers are an essential component of recently updated diagnostic criteria for AD from the National Institute on Aging – Alzheimer's Association. Biomarkers serve as proxies for specific pathophysiological features of disease. The 5 most well established AD biomarkers include both brain imaging and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) measures – CSF Abeta and tau, amyloid positron emission tomography (PET), fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET, and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This article reviews evidence supporting the position that MRI is a biomarker of neurodegenerative atrophy. Topics covered include methods of extracting quantitative and semi quantitative information from structural MRI; imaging-autopsy correlation; and evidence supporting diagnostic and prognostic value of MRI measures. Finally, the place of MRI in a hypothetical model of temporal ordering of AD biomarkers is reviewed.
The logopenic variant of primary progressive aphasia is an atypical clinical variant of Alzheimer’s disease which is typically characterized by left temporoparietal atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging and hypometabolism on F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography. We aimed to characterize and compare patterns of atrophy and hypometabolism in logopenic primary progressive aphasia, and determine which brain regions and imaging modality best differentiates logopenic primary progressive aphasia from typical dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.
A total of 27 logopenic primary progressive aphasia subjects underwent fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography and volumetric magnetic resonance imaging. These subjects were matched to 27 controls and 27 subjects with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. Patterns of atrophy and hypometabolism were assessed at the voxel and region-level using Statistical Parametric Mapping. Penalized logistic regression analysis was used to determine what combinations of regions best discriminate between groups.
Atrophy and hypometabolism was observed in lateral temporoparietal and medial parietal lobes, left greater than right, and left frontal lobe in the logopenic group. The logopenic group showed greater left inferior, middle and superior lateral temporal atrophy (inferior p = 0.02; middle p = 0.007, superior p = 0.002) and hypometabolism (inferior p = 0.006, middle p = 0.002, superior p = 0.001), and less right medial temporal atrophy (p = 0.02) and hypometabolism (p<0.001), and right posterior cingulate hypometabolism (p<0.001) than dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. An age-adjusted penalized logistic model incorporating atrophy and hypometabolism achieved excellent discrimination (area under the receiver operator characteristic curve = 0.89) between logopenic and dementia of the Alzheimer’s type subjects, with optimal discrimination achieved using right medial temporal and posterior cingulate hypometabolism, left inferior, middle and superior temporal hypometabolism, and left superior temporal volume.
Patterns of atrophy and hypometabolism both differ between logopenic primary progressive aphasia and dementia of the Alzheimer’s type and both modalities provide excellent discrimination between groups.
Amyloid imaging represents a major advance in neuroscience, enabling the detection and quantification of pathologic protein aggregations in the brain. In this review we survey current amyloid imaging techniques, focusing on positron emission tomography (PET) with 11carbon-labelled Pittsburgh Compound-B (11C-PIB), the most extensively studied and best validated tracer. PIB binds specifically to fibrillar beta-amyloid (Aβ) deposits, and is a sensitive marker for Aβ pathology in cognitively normal older individuals and patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). PIB-PET provides us with a powerful tool to examine in vivo the relationship between amyloid deposition, clinical symptoms, and structural and functional brain changes in the continuum between normal aging and AD. Amyloid imaging studies support a model in which amyloid deposition is an early event on the path to dementia, beginning insidiously in cognitively normal individuals, and accompanied by subtle cognitive decline and functional and structural brain changes suggestive of incipient AD. As patients progress to dementia, clinical decline and neurodegeneration accelerate and proceed independently of amyloid accumulation. In the future, amyloid imaging is likely to supplement clinical evaluation in selecting patients for anti-amyloid therapies, while MRI and FDG-PET may be more appropriate markers of clinical progression.
Amyloid imaging; PET; PIB; beta-amyloid; brain aging; MCI; Alzheimer's disease
The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) is an ongoing, longitudinal, multicenter study designed to develop clinical, imaging, genetic and biochemical biomarkers for the early detection and tracking of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The study aimed to enroll 400 subjects with early mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 200 subjects with early AD and 200 normal controls and $67 million funding was provided by both the public and private sectors including the National Institutes on Aging, thirteen pharmaceutical companies and two Foundations that provided support through the Foundation for NIH (FNIH). This article reviews all papers published since the inception of the initiative and summarizes the results as of February, 2011. The major accomplishments of ADNI have been 1) the development of standardized methods for clinical, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers in a multi-center setting; 2) elucidation of the patterns and rates of change of imaging and CSF biomarker measurements in control, MCI and AD patients. CSF biomarkers are consistent with disease trajectories predicted by β amyloid (Aβ) cascade  and tau mediated neurodegeneration hypotheses for AD while brain atrophy and hypometabolism levels show predicted patterns but exhibit differing rates of change depending on region and disease severity; 3) the assessment of alternative methods of diagnostic categorization. Currently, the best classifiers combine optimum features from multiple modalities including MRI, FDG-PET, CSF biomarkers and clinical tests; 4) the development of methods for the early detection of AD. CSF biomarkers, Aβ42 and tau as well as amyloid PET may reflect the earliest steps in AD pathology in mildly or even non-symptomatic subjects and are leading candidates for the detection of AD in its preclinical stages; 5) the improvement of clinical trial efficiency through the identification of subjects most likely to undergo imminent future clinical decline and the use of more sensitive outcome measures to reduce sample sizes. Baseline cognitive and/or MRI measures generally predicted future decline better than other modalities whereas MRI measures of change were shown to be the most efficient outcome measures; 6) the confirmation of the AD risk loci CLU, CR1 and PICALM and the identification of novel candidate risk loci; 7) worldwide impact through the establishment of ADNI-like programs in Europe, Asia and Australia; 8) understanding the biology and pathobiology of normal aging, MCI and AD through integration of ADNI biomarker data with clinical data from ADNI to stimulate research that will resolve controversies about competing hypotheses on the etiopathogenesis of AD thereby advancing efforts to find disease modifying drugs for AD; and 9) the establishment of infrastructure to allow sharing of all raw and processed data without embargo to interested scientific investigators throughout the world. The ADNI study was extended by a two year Grand Opportunities grant in 2009 and a renewal of ADNI (ADNI2) in October, 2010 through to 2016, with enrollment of an additional 550 participants.
Both amyloid-β (Aβ) deposition and brain atrophy are associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and the disease process likely begins many years before symptoms appear. We sought to determine whether clinically normal (CN) older individuals with Aβ deposition revealed by positron emission tomography (PET) imaging using Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) also have evidence of both cortical thickness and hippocampal volume reductions in a pattern similar to that seen in AD.
A total of 119 older individuals (87 CN subjects and 32 patients with mild AD) underwent PiB PET and high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Regression models were used to relate PiB retention to cortical thickness and hippocampal volume.
We found that PiB retention in CN subjects was (1) age-related and (2) associated with cortical thickness reductions, particularly in parietal and posterior cingulate regions extending into the precuneus, in a pattern similar to that observed in mild AD. Hippocampal volume reduction was variably related to Aβ deposition.
We conclude that Aβ deposition is associated with a pattern of cortical thickness reduction consistent with AD prior to the development of cognitive impairment. ANN NEUROL 2010;