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1.  A data-driven model of biomarker changes in sporadic Alzheimer's disease 
Brain  2014;137(9):2564-2577.
Young et al. reformulate an event-based model for the progression of Alzheimer's disease to make it applicable to a heterogeneous sporadic disease population. The enhanced model predicts the ordering of biomarker abnormality in sporadic Alzheimer's disease independently of clinical diagnoses or biomarker cut-points, and shows state-of-the-art diagnostic classification performance.
We demonstrate the use of a probabilistic generative model to explore the biomarker changes occurring as Alzheimer’s disease develops and progresses. We enhanced the recently introduced event-based model for use with a multi-modal sporadic disease data set. This allows us to determine the sequence in which Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers become abnormal without reliance on a priori clinical diagnostic information or explicit biomarker cut points. The model also characterizes the uncertainty in the ordering and provides a natural patient staging system. Two hundred and eighty-five subjects (92 cognitively normal, 129 mild cognitive impairment, 64 Alzheimer’s disease) were selected from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative with measurements of 14 Alzheimer’s disease-related biomarkers including cerebrospinal fluid proteins, regional magnetic resonance imaging brain volume and rates of atrophy measures, and cognitive test scores. We used the event-based model to determine the sequence of biomarker abnormality and its uncertainty in various population subgroups. We used patient stages assigned by the event-based model to discriminate cognitively normal subjects from those with Alzheimer’s disease, and predict conversion from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease and cognitively normal to mild cognitive impairment. The model predicts that cerebrospinal fluid levels become abnormal first, followed by rates of atrophy, then cognitive test scores, and finally regional brain volumes. In amyloid-positive (cerebrospinal fluid amyloid-β1–42 < 192 pg/ml) or APOE-positive (one or more APOE4 alleles) subjects, the model predicts with high confidence that the cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers become abnormal in a distinct sequence: amyloid-β1–42, phosphorylated tau, total tau. However, in the broader population total tau and phosphorylated tau are found to be earlier cerebrospinal fluid markers than amyloid-β1–42, albeit with more uncertainty. The model’s staging system strongly separates cognitively normal and Alzheimer’s disease subjects (maximum classification accuracy of 99%), and predicts conversion from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease (maximum balanced accuracy of 77% over 3 years), and from cognitively normal to mild cognitive impairment (maximum balanced accuracy of 76% over 5 years). By fitting Cox proportional hazards models, we find that baseline model stage is a significant risk factor for conversion from both mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease (P = 2.06 × 10−7) and cognitively normal to mild cognitive impairment (P = 0.033). The data-driven model we describe supports hypothetical models of biomarker ordering in amyloid-positive and APOE-positive subjects, but suggests that biomarker ordering in the wider population may diverge from this sequence. The model provides useful disease staging information across the full spectrum of disease progression, from cognitively normal to mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. This approach has broad application across neurodegenerative disease, providing insights into disease biology, as well as staging and prognostication.
PMCID: PMC4132648  PMID: 25012224
event-based model; disease progression; Alzheimer’s disease; biomarkers; biomarker ordering
2.  Brain beta-amyloid measures and magnetic resonance imaging atrophy both predict time-to-progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease 
Brain  2010;133(11):3336-3348.
Biomarkers of brain Aβ amyloid deposition can be measured either by cerebrospinal fluid Aβ42 or Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography imaging. Our objective was to evaluate the ability of Aβ load and neurodegenerative atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging to predict shorter time-to-progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s dementia and to characterize the effect of these biomarkers on the risk of progression as they become increasingly abnormal. A total of 218 subjects with mild cognitive impairment were identified from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. The primary outcome was time-to-progression to Alzheimer’s dementia. Hippocampal volumes were measured and adjusted for intracranial volume. We used a new method of pooling cerebrospinal fluid Aβ42 and Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography measures to produce equivalent measures of brain Aβ load from either source and analysed the results using multiple imputation methods. We performed our analyses in two phases. First, we grouped our subjects into those who were ‘amyloid positive’ (n = 165, with the assumption that Alzheimer's pathology is dominant in this group) and those who were ‘amyloid negative’ (n = 53). In the second phase, we included all 218 subjects with mild cognitive impairment to evaluate the biomarkers in a sample that we assumed to contain a full spectrum of expected pathologies. In a Kaplan–Meier analysis, amyloid positive subjects with mild cognitive impairment were much more likely to progress to dementia within 2 years than amyloid negative subjects with mild cognitive impairment (50 versus 19%). Among amyloid positive subjects with mild cognitive impairment only, hippocampal atrophy predicted shorter time-to-progression (P < 0.001) while Aβ load did not (P = 0.44). In contrast, when all 218 subjects with mild cognitive impairment were combined (amyloid positive and negative), hippocampal atrophy and Aβ load predicted shorter time-to-progression with comparable power (hazard ratio for an inter-quartile difference of 2.6 for both); however, the risk profile was linear throughout the range of hippocampal atrophy values but reached a ceiling at higher values of brain Aβ load. Our results are consistent with a model of Alzheimer’s disease in which Aβ deposition initiates the pathological cascade but is not the direct cause of cognitive impairment as evidenced by the fact that Aβ load severity is decoupled from risk of progression at high levels. In contrast, hippocampal atrophy indicates how far along the neurodegenerative path one is, and hence how close to progressing to dementia. Possible explanations for our finding that many subjects with mild cognitive impairment have intermediate levels of Aβ load include: (i) individual subjects may reach an Aβ load plateau at varying absolute levels; (ii) some subjects may be more biologically susceptible to Aβ than others; and (iii) subjects with mild cognitive impairment with intermediate levels of Aβ may represent individuals with Alzheimer’s disease co-existent with other pathologies.
PMCID: PMC2965425  PMID: 20935035
mild cognitive impairment; amyloid imaging; magnetic resonance imaging; cerebrospinal fluid; Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers
3.  Vascular and amyloid pathologies are independent predictors of cognitive decline in normal elderly 
Brain  2015;138(3):761-771.
Vemuri et al. show that amyloid and vascular pathologies are independent processes, and that both are major drivers of cognitive decline in the elderly. Cognitive reserve as measured by educational/occupational level and mid/late-life cognitive activity seems to offset the deleterious effects of both pathologies on cognitive trajectories.
Our primary objective was to investigate a biomarker driven model for the interrelationships between vascular disease pathology, amyloid pathology, and longitudinal cognitive decline in cognitively normal elderly subjects between 70 and 90 years of age. Our secondary objective was to investigate the beneficial effect of cognitive reserve on these interrelationships. We used brain amyloid-β load measured using Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography as a marker for amyloid pathology. White matter hyperintensities and brain infarcts were measured using fluid-attenuated inversion recovery magnetic resonance imaging as a marker for vascular pathology. We studied 393 cognitively normal elderly participants in the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who had a baseline 3 T fluid-attenuated inversion recovery magnetic resonance imaging assessment, Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography scan, baseline cognitive assessment, lifestyle measures, and at least one additional clinical follow-up. We classified subjects as being on the amyloid pathway if they had a global cortical amyloid-β load of ≥1.5 standard uptake value ratio and those on the vascular pathway if they had a brain infarct and/or white matter hyperintensities load ≥1.11% of total intracranial volume (which corresponds to the top 25% of white matter hyperintensities in an independent non-demented sample). We used a global cognitive z-score as a measure of cognition. We found no evidence that the presence or absence of vascular pathology influenced the presence or absence of amyloid pathology and vice versa, suggesting that the two processes seem to be independent. Baseline cognitive performance was lower in older individuals, in males, those with lower education/occupation, and those on the amyloid pathway. The rate of cognitive decline was higher in older individuals (P < 0.001) and those with amyloid (P = 0.0003) or vascular (P = 0.0037) pathologies. In those subjects with both vascular and amyloid pathologies, the effect of both pathologies on cognition was additive and not synergistic. For a 79-year-old subject, the predicted annual rate of global z-score decline was −0.02 if on neither pathway, −0.07 if on the vascular pathway, −0.08 if on the amyloid pathway and −0.13 if on both pathways. The main conclusions of this study were: (i) amyloid and vascular pathologies seem to be at least partly independent processes that both affect longitudinal cognitive trajectories adversely and are major drivers of cognitive decline in the elderly; and (ii) cognitive reserve seems to offset the deleterious effect of both pathologies on the cognitive trajectories.
PMCID: PMC4339775  PMID: 25595145
ageing; cognitive neurology; neuroimaging; neuro protective strategies
4.  Association of brain amyloid-β with cerebral perfusion and structure in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment 
Brain  2014;137(5):1550-1561.
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease show reduced cerebral blood flow, but it is unclear how this relates to β-amyloid pathology. By comparing patients with Alzheimer’s dementia, mild cognitive impairment, and controls, Mattsson et al. show that high β-amyloid load is associated with increased atrophy and reduced perfusion, independent of diagnosis.
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have reduced cerebral blood flow measured by arterial spin labelling magnetic resonance imaging, but it is unclear how this is related to amyloid-β pathology. Using 182 subjects from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative we tested associations of amyloid-β with regional cerebral blood flow in healthy controls (n = 51), early (n = 66) and late (n = 41) mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease with dementia (n = 24). Based on the theory that Alzheimer’s disease starts with amyloid-β accumulation and progresses with symptoms and secondary pathologies in different trajectories, we tested if cerebral blood flow differed between amyloid-β-negative controls and -positive subjects in different diagnostic groups, and if amyloid-β had different associations with cerebral blood flow and grey matter volume. Global amyloid-β load was measured by florbetapir positron emission tomography, and regional blood flow and volume were measured in eight a priori defined regions of interest. Cerebral blood flow was reduced in patients with dementia in most brain regions. Higher amyloid-β load was related to lower cerebral blood flow in several regions, independent of diagnostic group. When comparing amyloid-β-positive subjects with -negative controls, we found reductions of cerebral blood flow in several diagnostic groups, including in precuneus, entorhinal cortex and hippocampus (dementia), inferior parietal cortex (late mild cognitive impairment and dementia), and inferior temporal cortex (early and late mild cognitive impairment and dementia). The associations of amyloid-β with cerebral blood flow and volume differed across the disease spectrum, with high amyloid-β being associated with greater cerebral blood flow reduction in controls and greater volume reduction in late mild cognitive impairment and dementia. In addition to disease stage, amyloid-β pathology affects cerebral blood flow across the span from controls to dementia patients. Amyloid-β pathology has different associations with cerebral blood flow and volume, and may cause more loss of blood flow in early stages, whereas volume loss dominates in late disease stages.
PMCID: PMC3999717  PMID: 24625697
Alzheimer’s disease; beta-amyloid; PET imaging; perfusion imaging; magnetic resonance imaging
The Lancet. Neurology  2012;11(12):1048-1056.
We previously detected functional brain imaging abnormalities in young adults at genetic risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Here, we sought to characterize structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and plasma biomarker abnormalities in young adults at risk for autosomal dominant early-onset AD. Biomarker measurements were characterized and compared in presenilin 1 (PSEN1) E280A mutation carriers and non-carriers from the world’s largest known autosomal dominant early-onset AD kindred, more than two decades before the carriers’ estimated median age of 44 at the onset of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and before their estimated age of 28 at the onset of amyloid-β (Aβ) plaque deposition.
Biomarker data for this cross-sectional study were acquired in Antioquia, Colombia between July and August, 2010. Forty-four participants from the Colombian Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API) Registry had structural MRIs, functional MRIs during associative memory encoding/novel viewing and control tasks, and cognitive assessments. They included 20 mutation carriers and 24 non-carriers, who were cognitively normal, 18-26 years old and matched for their gender, age, and educational level. Twenty of the participants, including 10 mutation carriers and 10 non-carriers, had lumbar punctures and venipunctures. Primary outcome measures included task-dependent hippocampal/parahippocampal activations and precuneus/posterior cingulate deactivations, regional gray matter reductions, CSF Aβ1-42, total tau and phospho-tau181 levels, and plasma Aβ1-42 levels and Aβ1-42/Aβ1-40 ratios. Structural and functional MRI data were compared using automated brain mapping algorithms and AD-related search regions. Cognitive and fluid biomarkers were compared using Mann-Whitney tests.
The mutation carrier and non-carrier groups did not differ significantly in their dementia ratings, neuropsychological test scores, or proportion of apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 carriers. Compared to the non-carriers, carriers had higher CSF Aβ1-42 levels (p=0·008), plasma Aβ1-42 levels (p=0·01), and plasma Aβ1-42/Aβ1-40 ratios (p=0·001), consistent with Aβ1-42 overproduction. They also had greater hippocampal/parahippocampal activations (as low as p=0·008, after correction for multiple comparisons), less precuneus/posterior cingulate deactivations (as low as p=0·001, after correction), less gray matter in several regions (p-values <0·005, uncorrected, and corrected p=0·008 in the parietal search region), similar to findings in the later preclinical and clinical stages of autosomal dominant and late-onset AD.
Young adults at genetic risk for autosomal dominant AD have functional and structural MRI abnormalities, along with CSF and plasma biomarker findings consistent with Aβ1-42 over-production. While the extent to which the underlying brain changes are progressive or developmental remain to be determined, this study demonstrates the earliest known biomarker changes in cognitively normal people at genetic risk for autosomal dominant AD.
Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation, Nomis Foundation, Anonymous Foundation, Forget Me Not Initiative, Boston University Department of Psychology, Colciencias (1115-408-20512, 1115-545-31651), National Institute on Aging (R01 AG031581, P30 AG19610, UO1 AG024904, RO1 AG025526, RF1AG041705), National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (F31-NS078786) and state of Arizona.
PMCID: PMC4181671  PMID: 23137948
Alzheimer’s disease; biomarkers; preclinical; early-onset; dominantly inherited; MRI; functional MRI; cerebrospinal fluid; plasma; presenilin E280A mutation; amyloid; tau; genetics; prevention
6.  Effect of Cognitive Reserve Markers on Alzheimer Pathological Progression 
Alzheimer disease and associated disorders  2013;27(4):10.1097/WAD.0b013e3182900b2b.
Education, occupation, premorbid intelligence and brain size are surrogate markers for cognitive reserve. Whether these markers have biological influence on Alzheimer disease (AD) pathology is not known. We thus aimed to investigate the effect of cognitive reserve proxies on longitudinal change of AD biomarkers. A total of 819 participants with normal cognition (NC), mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and mild AD were enrolled in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative and followed up with repeated measures of CSF, PET and MRI biomarkers. Generalized estimating equations were employed to assess whether biomarker rates of change were modified by reserve proxies. CSF Aβ42 decline was slower in NC participants with higher cognitive reserve indexed by education, occupation and American National Adult Reading Test (ANART). The decline of [18F] fluorodeoxyglucose PET uptake was slower in AD participants with better performance on the ANART. Education, occupation and ANART did not modify the rates of MRI hippocampal atrophy in any group. These findings remained unchanged after accounting for APOE 4, longitudinal missing data and baseline cognitive performance. Higher levels of reserve markers may slow the rate of amyloid deposition before cognitive impairment and preserve glucose metabolism at the dementia stage over the course of AD pathological progression.
PMCID: PMC3745532  PMID: 23552443
cognitive reserve; Alzheimer disease; aging; biomarker; longitudinal study
7.  In vivo radioligand binding to translocator protein correlates with severity of Alzheimer’s disease 
Brain  2013;136(7):2228-2238.
Neuroinflammation is a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, but its role in cognitive impairment and its course of development during the disease are largely unknown. To address these unknowns, we used positron emission tomography with 11C-PBR28 to measure translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO), a putative biomarker for inflammation. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease, patients with mild cognitive impairment and older control subjects were also scanned with 11C-Pittsburgh Compound B to measure amyloid burden. Twenty-nine amyloid-positive patients (19 Alzheimer’s, 10 mild cognitive impairment) and 13 amyloid-negative control subjects were studied. The primary goal of this study was to determine whether TSPO binding is elevated in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and the secondary goal was to determine whether TSPO binding correlates with neuropsychological measures, grey matter volume, 11C-Pittsburgh Compound B binding, or age of onset. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease, but not those with mild cognitive impairment, had greater 11C-PBR28 binding in cortical brain regions than controls. The largest differences were seen in the parietal and temporal cortices, with no difference in subcortical regions or cerebellum. 11C-PBR28 binding inversely correlated with performance on Folstein Mini-Mental State Examination, Clinical Dementia Rating Scale Sum of Boxes, Logical Memory Immediate (Wechsler Memory Scale Third Edition), Trail Making part B and Block Design (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale Third Edition) tasks, with the largest correlations observed in the inferior parietal lobule. 11C-PBR28 binding also inversely correlated with grey matter volume. Early-onset (<65 years) patients had greater 11C-PBR28 binding than late-onset patients, and in parietal cortex and striatum 11C-PBR28 binding correlated with lower age of onset. Partial volume corrected and uncorrected results were generally in agreement; however, the correlation between 11C-PBR28 and 11C-Pittsburgh Compound B binding was seen only after partial volume correction. The results suggest that neuroinflammation, indicated by increased 11C-PBR28 binding to TSPO, occurs after conversion of mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease and worsens with disease progression. Greater inflammation may contribute to the precipitous disease course typically seen in early-onset patients. 11C-PBR28 may be useful in longitudinal studies to mark the conversion from mild cognitive impairment or to assess response to experimental treatments of Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3692038  PMID: 23775979
Alzheimer’s disease; mild cognitive impairment; neuroinflammation; positron emission tomography
8.  The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative: A review of papers published since its inception 
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 control subjects; $67 million funding was provided by both the public and private sectors, including the National Institute on Aging, 13 pharmaceutical companies, and 2 foundations that provided support through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. 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 as follows: (1) the development of standardized methods for clinical tests, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers in a multicenter setting; (2) elucidation of the patterns and rates of change of imaging and CSF biomarker measurements in control subjects, MCI patients, and AD patients. CSF biomarkers are consistent with disease trajectories predicted by β-amyloid cascade (Hardy, J Alzheimers Dis 2006;9(Suppl 3):151–3) and tau-mediated neurodegeneration hypotheses for AD, whereas 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, [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose-PET, CSF biomarkers, and clinical tests; (4) the development of methods for the early detection of AD. CSF biomarkers, β-amyloid 42 and tau, as well as amyloid PET may reflect the earliest steps in AD pathology in mildly symptomatic or even nonsymptomatic 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 2-year Grand Opportunities grant in 2009 and a renewal of ADNI (ADNI-2) in October 2010 through to 2016, with enrollment of an additional 550 participants.
PMCID: PMC4108198  PMID: 23932184
Alzheimer's disease; Mild cognitive impairment; Amyloid; Tau; Biomarker
9.  The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative: A review of papers published since its inception 
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 [1] 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.
PMCID: PMC3329969  PMID: 22047634
10.  Imaging amyloid deposition in Lewy body diseases 
Neurology  2008;71(12):903-910.
Extrapyramidal motor symptoms precede dementia in Parkinson disease (PDD) by many years, whereas dementia occurs early in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Despite this clinical distinction, the neuropsychological and neuropathologic features of these conditions overlap. In addition to widespread distribution of Lewy bodies, both diseases have variable burdens of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles characteristic of Alzheimer disease (AD).
To determine whether amyloid deposition, as assessed by PET imaging with the β-amyloid–binding compound Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB), can distinguish DLB from PDD, and to assess whether regional patterns of amyloid deposition correlate with specific motor or cognitive features.
Eight DLB, 7 PDD, 11 Parkinson disease (PD), 15 AD, and 37 normal control (NC) subjects underwent PiB-PET imaging and neuropsychological assessment. Amyloid burden was quantified using the PiB distribution volume ratio.
Cortical amyloid burden was higher in the DLB group than in the PDD group, comparable to the AD group. Amyloid deposition in the PDD group was low, comparable to the PD and NC groups. Relative to global cortical retention, occipital PiB retention was lower in the AD group than in the other groups. For the DLB, PDD, and PD groups, amyloid deposition in the parietal (lateral and precuneus)/posterior cingulate region was related to visuospatial impairment. Striatal PiB retention in the DLB and PDD groups was associated with less impaired motor function.
Global cortical amyloid burden is high in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) but low in Parkinson disease dementia. These data suggest that β-amyloid may contribute selectively to the cognitive impairment of DLB and may contribute to the timing of dementia relative to the motor signs of parkinsonism.
= Automated Anatomic Labeling;
= Alzheimer disease;
= Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center;
= American version of the National Adult Reading Test;
= analysis of covariance;
= Blessed Dementia Scale;
= cerebral amyloid angiopathy;
= Clinical Dementia Rating;
= Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes;
= dementia with Lewy bodies;
= distribution volume ratio;
= Cued Selective Reminding Test;
= Free Selective Reminding Test;
= Hoehn and Yahr;
= Massachusetts General Hospital;
= Mini-Mental State Examination;
= normal control;
= neurofibrillary tangle;
= Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire;
= not significant;
= Parkinson disease;
= Parkinson disease dementia;
= Pittsburgh Compound B;
= region of interest;
= Statistical Parametric Mapping;
= UK Parkinson’s Disease Society Brain Bank Research Center;
= United Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale;
= Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale–Revised.
PMCID: PMC2637553  PMID: 18794492
11.  Vascular Contributions to Cognitive Impairment and Dementia 
Background and Purpose
This scientific statement provides an overview of the evidence on vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia. Vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia of later life are common. Definitions of vascular cognitive impairment (VCI), neuropathology, basic science and pathophysiological aspects, role of neuroimaging and vascular and other associated risk factors, and potential opportunities for prevention and treatment are reviewed. This statement serves as an overall guide for practitioners to gain a better understanding of VCI and dementia, prevention, and treatment.
Writing group members were nominated by the writing group co-chairs on the basis of their previous work in relevant topic areas and were approved by the American Heart Association Stroke Council Scientific Statement Oversight Committee, the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, and the Manuscript Oversight Committee. The writing group used systematic literature reviews (primarily covering publications from 1990 to May 1, 2010), previously published guidelines, personal files, and expert opinion to summarize existing evidence, indicate gaps in current knowledge, and, when appropriate, formulate recommendations using standard American Heart Association criteria. All members of the writing group had the opportunity to comment on the recommendations and approved the final version of this document. After peer review by the American Heart Association, as well as review by the Stroke Council leadership, Council on Epidemiology and Prevention Council, and Scientific Statements Oversight Committee, the statement was approved by the American Heart Association Science Advisory and Coordinating Committee.
The construct of VCI has been introduced to capture the entire spectrum of cognitive disorders associated with all forms of cerebral vascular brain injury—not solely stroke—ranging from mild cognitive impairment through fully developed dementia. Dysfunction of the neurovascular unit and mechanisms regulating cerebral blood flow are likely to be important components of the pathophysiological processes underlying VCI. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy is emerging as an important marker of risk for Alzheimer disease, microinfarction, microhemorrhage and macrohemorrhage of the brain, and VCI. The neuropathology of cognitive impairment in later life is often a mixture of Alzheimer disease and microvascular brain damage, which may overlap and synergize to heighten the risk of cognitive impairment. In this regard, magnetic resonance imaging and other neuroimaging techniques play an important role in the definition and detection of VCI and provide evidence that subcortical forms of VCI with white matter hyperintensities and small deep infarcts are common. In many cases, risk markers for VCI are the same as traditional risk factors for stroke. These risks may include but are not limited to atrial fibrillation, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and hypercholesterolemia. Furthermore, these same vascular risk factors may be risk markers for Alzheimer disease. Carotid intimal-medial thickness and arterial stiffness are emerging as markers of arterial aging and may serve as risk markers for VCI. Currently, no specific treatments for VCI have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. However, detection and control of the traditional risk factors for stroke and cardiovascular disease may be effective in the prevention of VCI, even in older people.
Vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia are important. Understanding of VCI has evolved substantially in recent years, based on preclinical, neuropathologic, neuroimaging, physiological, and epidemiological studies. Transdisciplinary, translational, and transactional approaches are recommended to further our understanding of this entity and to better characterize its neuropsychological profile. There is a need for prospective, quantitative, clinical-pathological-neuroimaging studies to improve knowledge of the pathological basis of neuroimaging change and the complex interplay between vascular and Alzheimer disease pathologies in the evolution of clinical VCI and Alzheimer disease. Long-term vascular risk marker interventional studies beginning as early as midlife may be required to prevent or postpone the onset of VCI and Alzheimer disease. Studies of intensive reduction of vascular risk factors in high-risk groups are another important avenue of research.
PMCID: PMC3778669  PMID: 21778438
AHA Scientific Statements; vascular dementia; Alzheimer disease; risk factors; prevention; treatment
12.  Prevalence of Cerebral Amyloid Pathology in Persons Without Dementia 
JAMA  2015;313(19):1924-1938.
Cerebral amyloid-β aggregation is an early pathological event in Alzheimer disease (AD), starting decades before dementia onset. Estimates of the prevalence of amyloid pathology in persons without dementia are needed to understand the development of AD and to design prevention studies.
To use individual participant data meta-analysis to estimate the prevalence of amyloid pathology as measured with biomarkers in participants with normal cognition, subjective cognitive impairment (SCI), or mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Relevant biomarker studies identified by searching studies published before April 2015 using the MEDLINE and Web of Science databases and through personal communication with investigators.
Studies were included if they provided individual participant data for participants without dementia and used an a priori defined cutoff for amyloid positivity.
Individual records were provided for 2914 participants with normal cognition, 697 with SCI, and 3972 with MCI aged 18 to 100 years from 55 studies.
Prevalence of amyloid pathology on positron emission tomography or in cerebrospinal fluid according to AD risk factors (age, apolipoprotein E [APOE] genotype, sex, and education) estimated by generalized estimating equations.
The prevalence of amyloid pathology increased from age 50 to 90 years from 10% (95% CI, 8%-13%) to 44% (95% CI, 37%-51%) among participants with normal cognition; from 12% (95% CI, 8%-18%) to 43% (95% CI, 32%-55%) among patients with SCI; and from 27% (95% CI, 23%-32%) to 71% (95% CI, 66%-76%) among patients with MCI. APOE-ε4 carriers had 2 to 3 times higher prevalence estimates than noncarriers. The age at which 15% of the participants with normal cognition were amyloid positive was approximately 40 years for APOEε4ε4 carriers, 50 years for ε2ε4 carriers, 55 years for ε3ε4 carriers, 65 years for ε3ε3 carriers, and 95 years for ε2ε3 carriers. Amyloid positivity was more common in highly educated participants but not associated with sex or biomarker modality.
Among persons without dementia, the prevalence of cerebral amyloid pathology as determined by positron emission tomography or cerebrospinal fluid findings was associated with age, APOEgenotype, and presence of cognitive impairment. These findings suggest a 20- to 30-year interval between first development of amyloid positivity and onset of dementia.
PMCID: PMC4486209  PMID: 25988462
13.  Intellectual enrichment is linked to cerebral efficiency in multiple sclerosis: functional magnetic resonance imaging evidence for cognitive reserve 
Brain  2009;133(2):362-374.
The cognitive reserve hypothesis helps to explain the incomplete relationship between brain disease and cognitive status in people with neurologic diseases, including Alzheimer's; disease and multiple sclerosis. Lifetime intellectual enrichment (estimated with education or vocabulary knowledge) lessens the negative impact of brain disease on cognition, such that people with greater enrichment are able to withstand more severe neuropathology before suffering cognitive impairment or dementia. The current research is the first to investigate directly the relationship between intellectual enrichment and an index of cerebral activity (the blood oxygen level dependent signal) in a neurologic sample. Multiple sclerosis patients completed a vocabulary-based estimate of lifetime intellectual enrichment. Disease severity was estimated with brain atrophy. Cognitive status was measured with the Symbol Digit Modalities Test. Cerebral activity (functional magnetic resonance imaging blood oxygen level dependent signal) and behavioural performance (accuracy, reaction time) were recorded during the visual N-Back working memory task (three levels of demand: 0-, 1-, 2-Back). All patients produced perfect/nearly perfect accuracy during lower demands (0- and 1-Back), and reaction time was unrelated to intellectual enrichment; however, voxelwise partial correlations controlling for brain atrophy revealed strong positive correlations between intellectual enrichment and cerebral activity within the brain's; default network (e.g. anterior and posterior cingulate corticies), indicating that patients with greater enrichment were able to maintain resting state activity during cognitive processing better. In turn, intellectual enrichment was negatively associated with prefrontal recruitment, suggesting that patients with lesser enrichment required more cerebral resources to perform the same cognitive task as patients with greater enrichment. This same pattern of enrichment-related cerebral activity was observed when cognitive demands increased (2-Back), and intellectual enrichment was negatively associated with reaction time. Principle components analysis revealed a single cognitive reserve network across tasks (greater default network, lesser prefrontal recruitment). Expression of this network almost fully mediated the positive relationship between intellectual enrichment and cognitive status (Symbol Digit Modalities Test). Also, expression of this network was positively associated with brain atrophy when controlling for cognitive status, indicating that patients with greater expression of this network can withstand more severe brain disease before exhibiting cognition similar to patients with lesser network expression. Of note, similar functional magnetic resonance imaging research with healthy adults has not found an association between intelligence and cerebral efficiency. The unique relationship between intellectual enrichment and cerebral efficiency in neurologic patients is consistent with the cognitive reserve hypothesis, which does not posit that enrichment leads to gains in neurocognitive functioning per se; rather, enrichment protects against neurocognitive decline secondarily to disease.
PMCID: PMC2822636  PMID: 20008455
cognitive reserve; functional MRI; multiple sclerosis; Alzheimer's; disease; default network
14.  Serial PIB and MRI in normal, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease: implications for sequence of pathological events in Alzheimer's disease 
Brain  2009;132(5):1355-1365.
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.
PMCID: PMC2677798  PMID: 19339253
Alzheimer's disease; amyloid imaging; magnetic resonance imaging, longitudinal imaging; mild cognitive impairment; Pittsburgh compound B
15.  Protocol for a randomized controlled trial evaluating the effect of physical activity on delaying the progression of white matter changes on MRI in older adults with memory complaints and mild cognitive impairment: The AIBL Active trial 
BMC Psychiatry  2012;12:167.
Older adults free of dementia but with subjective memory complaints (SMC) or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are considered at increased risk of cognitive decline. Vascular risk factors (VRF), including hypertension, heart disease, smoking, hypercholesterolemia and lack of physical activity (PA) have been identified as modifiable risk factors contributing to cognitive decline, and white matter hyperintensities (WMH) are associated with VRF, SMC and cognitive impairment. Findings from a growing number of clinical trials with older adults are providing strong evidence for the benefits of physical activity for maintaining cognitive function, but few studies are investigating these benefits in high-risk populations. The aim of AIBL Active is to determine whether a 24-month physical activity program can delay the progression of white matter changes on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
This single-blind randomized controlled trial (RCT) is offered to 156 participants, aged 60 and older, in the Melbourne arm of the Australian Imaging Biomarkers and Lifestyle Flagship Study of Aging (AIBL). Participants must have SMC with or without MCI and at least one VRF. The PA intervention is a modification of the intervention previously trialed in older adults with SMC and MCI (Fitness for the Ageing Brain Study). It comprises 24 months of moderate, home-based PA (150 minutes per week) and a behavioral intervention package. The primary outcome measure will be change in WMH after 24 months on MRI. Cognition, quality of life, functional fitness, level of physical activity, plasma biomarkers for cerebrovascular disease and amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) imaging comprise secondary measures.
Currently, there is no effective pharmacological treatment available to delay cognitive decline and dementia in older adults at risk. Should our findings show that physical activity can slow down the progression of WMH, this RCT would provide an important proof of concept. Since imbedded in AIBL this RCT will also be able to investigate the interaction between vascular and Alzheimer's disease pathologies.
Trial Registration
Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12611000612910
PMCID: PMC3534144  PMID: 23050829
16.  Brain amyloid-β oligomers in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease 
Brain  2013;136(5):1383-1398.
Alzheimer’s disease begins about two decades before the onset of symptoms or neuron death, and is believed to be caused by pathogenic amyloid-β aggregates that initiate a cascade of molecular events culminating in widespread neurodegeneration. The microtubule binding protein tau may mediate the effects of amyloid-β in this cascade. Amyloid plaques comprised of insoluble, fibrillar amyloid-β aggregates are the most characteristic feature of Alzheimer’s disease. However, the correspondence between the distribution of plaques and the pattern of neurodegeneration is tenuous. This discrepancy has stimulated the investigation of other amyloid-β aggregates, including soluble amyloid-β oligomers. Different soluble amyloid-β oligomers have been studied in several mouse models, but not systematically in humans. Here, we measured three amyloid-β oligomers previously described in mouse models—amyloid-β trimers, Aβ*56 and amyloid-β dimers—in brain tissue from 75 cognitively intact individuals, ranging from young children to the elderly, and 58 impaired subjects with mild cognitive impairment or probable Alzheimer’s disease. As in mouse models, where amyloid-β trimers appear to be the fundamental amyloid-β assembly unit of Aβ*56 and are present in young mice prior to memory decline, amyloid-β trimers in humans were present in children and adolescents; their levels rose gradually with age and were significantly above baseline in subjects in their 70s. Aβ*56 levels were negligible in children and young adults, rose significantly above baseline in subjects in their 40s and increased steadily thereafter. Amyloid-β dimers were undetectable until subjects were in their 60s; their levels then increased sharply and correlated with plaque load. Remarkably, in cognitively intact individuals we found strong positive correlations between Aβ*56 and two pathological forms of soluble tau (tau-CP13 and tau-Alz50), and negative correlations between Aβ*56 and two postsynaptic proteins (drebrin and fyn kinase), but none between amyloid-β dimers or amyloid-β trimers and tau or synaptic proteins. Comparing impaired with age-matched unimpaired subjects, we found the highest levels of amyloid-β dimers, but the lowest levels of Aβ*56 and amyloid-β trimers, in subjects with probable Alzheimer’s disease. In conclusion, in cognitively normal adults Aβ*56 increased ahead of amyloid-β dimers or amyloid-β trimers, and pathological tau proteins and postsynaptic proteins correlated with Aβ*56, but not amyloid-β dimers or amyloid-β trimers. We propose that Aβ*56 may play a pathogenic role very early in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3634198  PMID: 23576130
amyloid-β; Alzheimer; dimer; trimer; Aβ*56; oligomer
17.  Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease using cortical thickness: impact of cognitive reserve 
Brain  2009;132(8):2036-2047.
Brain atrophy measured by magnetic resonance structural imaging has been proposed as a surrogate marker for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Studies on large samples are still required to determine its practical interest at the individual level, especially with regards to the capacity of anatomical magnetic resonance imaging to disentangle the confounding role of the cognitive reserve in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. One hundred and thirty healthy controls, 122 subjects with mild cognitive impairment of the amnestic type and 130 Alzheimer's disease patients were included from the ADNI database and followed up for 24 months. After 24 months, 72 amnestic mild cognitive impairment had converted to Alzheimer's disease (referred to as progressive mild cognitive impairment, as opposed to stable mild cognitive impairment). For each subject, cortical thickness was measured on the baseline magnetic resonance imaging volume. The resulting cortical thickness map was parcellated into 22 regions and a normalized thickness index was computed using the subset of regions (right medial temporal, left lateral temporal, right posterior cingulate) that optimally distinguished stable mild cognitive impairment from progressive mild cognitive impairment. We tested the ability of baseline normalized thickness index to predict evolution from amnestic mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease and compared it to the predictive values of the main cognitive scores at baseline. In addition, we studied the relationship between the normalized thickness index, the education level and the timeline of conversion to Alzheimer's disease. Normalized thickness index at baseline differed significantly among all the four diagnosis groups (P < 0.001) and correctly distinguished Alzheimer's disease patients from healthy controls with an 85% cross-validated accuracy. Normalized thickness index also correctly predicted evolution to Alzheimer's disease for 76% of amnestic mild cognitive impairment subjects after cross-validation, thus showing an advantage over cognitive scores (range 63–72%). Moreover, progressive mild cognitive impairment subjects, who converted later than 1 year after baseline, showed a significantly higher education level than those who converted earlier than 1 year after baseline. Using a normalized thickness index-based criterion may help with early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease at the individual level, especially for highly educated subjects, up to 24 months before clinical criteria for Alzheimer's disease diagnosis are met.
PMCID: PMC2714060  PMID: 19439419
Early Alzheimer's disease; individual diagnosis; mild cognitive impairment; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); cognitive reserve
18.  Clinical and imaging features of mixed Alzheimer and vascular pathologies 
The co-occurrence of both Alzheimer disease (AD) pathology and vascular brain injury (VBI) is very common, especially amongst the oldest of old. In neuropathologic studies, the prevalence of AD, VBI, and mixed AD/VBI lesions ranks ahead of Lewy bodies and hippocampal sclerosis. In the modern era of structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, this review examines 1) the prevalence of mixed AD and VBI pathology, 2) the significance of these pathologies for cognitive impairment (AD and vascular cognitive impairment (VCI)), and 3) the diagnosis and treatment of mixed AD/VCI. Although epidemiologic studies report that vascular risk factors for arteriosclerosis increase the risk of incident AD, both autopsy and amyloid PET studies indicate that AD and VBI contribute additively, but independently, to the risk of dementia. The literature confirms the malignancy of AD and highlights the adverse effects of microinfarcts on cognitive function. For the clinical diagnosis of mixed AD/VCI, the presence of AD can be recognized by neuropsychological profile, structural imaging, cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers, and glucose PET and amyloid PET imaging. The diagnosis of VBI, however, still hinges predominantly on the structural MRI findings. Severe amnesia and atrophy of the hippocampus are characteristic of early AD, whereas the cognitive profile for VCI is highly variable and dependent on size and location of VBI. The cognitive profile of mixed AD/VBI is dominated by AD. With the notable exception of microinfarcts (which elude in vivo detection), infarcts, hemorrhages, and white matter hyperintensities on structural MRI currently represent the best markers for the presence VBI. Better markers that reflect the health and reactivity of intracerebral blood vessels are needed. For prevention and treatment, the type of underlying cerebrovascular disease (for example, arteriosclerosis or cerebral amyloid angiopathy) should be considered. It is likely that reduction of vascular risk factors for arteriosclerosis can significantly reduce vascular contributions to mixed dementia.
PMCID: PMC4342006  PMID: 25722748
19.  Relationships between biomarkers in aging and dementia 
Neurology  2009;73(15):1193-1199.
PET imaging using [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) and [11C]Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) have been proposed as biomarkers of Alzheimer disease (AD), as have CSF measures of the 42 amino acid β-amyloid protein (Aβ1-42) and total and phosphorylated tau (t-tau and p-tau). Relationships between biomarkers and with disease severity are incompletely understood.
Ten subjects with AD, 11 control subjects, and 34 subjects with mild cognitive impairment from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative underwent clinical evaluation; CSF measurement of Aβ1-42, t-tau, and p-tau; and PIB-PET and FDG-PET scanning. Data were analyzed using continuous regression and dichotomous outcomes with subjects classified as “positive” or “negative” for AD based on cutoffs established in patients with AD and controls from other cohorts.
Dichotomous categorization showed substantial agreement between PIB-PET and CSF Aβ1-42 measures (91% agreement, κ = 0.74), modest agreement between PIB-PET and p-tau (76% agreement, κ = 0.50), and minimal agreement for other comparisons (κ <0.3). Mini-Mental State Examination score was significantly correlated with FDG-PET but not with PIB-PET or CSF Aβ1-42. Regression models adjusted for diagnosis showed that PIB-PET was significantly correlated with Aβ1-42, t-tau, and p-tau181p, whereas FDG-PET was correlated only with Aβ1-42.
PET and CSF biomarkers of Aβ agree with one another but are not related to cognitive impairment. [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose-PET is modestly related to other biomarkers but is better related to cognition. Different biomarkers for Alzheimer disease provide different information from one another that is likely to be complementary.
β1-42 = 42 amino acid β-amyloid protein;
= Alzheimer disease;
= Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative;
= Clinical Dementia Rating;
= confidence interval;
= [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose;
= mild cognitive impairment;
= Mini-Mental State Examination;
= magnetic resonance;
= [11C]Pittsburgh compound B;
= phosphorylated tau;
= receiver operating characteristic;
= region of interest;
= standardized uptake value ratio;
= total tau;
= Wechsler Memory Scale–Revised.
PMCID: PMC2764726  PMID: 19822868
20.  Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Mild Cognitive Impairment 
Archives of neurology  2010;67(1):71-79.
To examine the effects of aerobic exercise on cognition and other biomarkers associated with Alzheimer disease pathology for older adults with mild cognitive impairment, and assess the role of sex as a predictor of response.
Six-month, randomized, controlled, clinical trial.
Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System clinical research unit.
Thirty-three adults (17 women) with amnestic mild cognitive impairment ranging in age from 55 to 85 years (mean age,70 years).
Participants were randomized either to a high-intensity aerobic exercise or stretching control group. The aerobic group exercised under the supervision of a fitness trainer at 75% to 85% of heart rate reserve for 45 to 60 min/d, 4 d/wk for 6 months. The control group carried out supervised stretching activities according to the same schedule but maintained their heart rate at or below 50% of their heart rate reserve. Before and after the study, glucometabolic and treadmill tests were performed and fat distribution was assessed using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. At baseline, month 3, and month 6, blood was collected for assay and cognitive tests were administered.
Main Outcome Measures
Performance measures on Symbol-Digit Modalities, Verbal Fluency, Stroop, Trails B, Task Switching, Story Recall, and List Learning. Fasting plasma levels of insulin, cortisol, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, insulinlike growth factor-I, and β-amyloids 40 and 42.
Six months of high-intensity aerobic exercise had sex-specific effects on cognition, glucose metabolism, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and trophic activity despite comparable gains in cardiorespiratory fitness and body fat reduction. For women, aerobic exercise improved performance on multiple tests of executive function, increased glucose disposal during the metabolic clamp, and reduced fasting plasma levels of insulin, cortisol, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. For men, aerobic exercise increased plasma levels of insulinlike growth factor I and had a favorable effect only on Trails B performance.
This study provides support, using rigorous controlled methodology, for a potent nonpharma-cologic intervention that improves executive control processes for older women at high risk of cognitive decline. Moreover, our results suggest that a sex bias in cognitive response may relate to sex-based differences in glucometabolic and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis responses to aerobic exercise.
PMCID: PMC3056436  PMID: 20065132
21.  Preclinical AD Workgroup staging: pathological correlates and potential challenges 
Neurobiology of Aging  2011;33(3):622.e1-622.e16.
The National Institute on Aging Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease Workgroup (PADW) has issued a preliminary report with recommendations for classifying preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (pAD) according to 3 early disease stages. Here we examine the PADW recommendations in relation to neuropathological features in a large, consecutive series of cognitively intact elderly persons, autopsied within a year after cognitive testing (n = 126 cognitively intact patients with mean age 83.7 years at death). Subjects were grouped based on a hypothetical construct correlating pathological features with PADW stages. Many cognitively intact individuals were classifiable as pAD (53/126 or 43%), as expected based on epidemiological and biomarker studies. Of these, most (48%) were in “stage 3”, which corresponds to amyloid pathology with early neurodegeneration. As with prior studies, our data indicate that the development of neocortical neurofibrillary tangles is the key pathological event that is not observed in pAD cases: Braak stages III or IV pathology are hence not truly a substrate for “intermediate likelihood” that cognitive impairment is due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We also stress the importance of comorbid non-Alzheimer’s disease brain pathologies (hippocampal sclerosis, neocortical alpha-synucleinopathy, cerebrovascular disease, and brains with hippocampal neurofibrillary tangles but no cortical amyloid plaques) that can contribute to the development of cognitive impairment, or which may serve as confounds in the application of the PADW recommendations. While the final recommendations from the PADW working group have not yet been released, this preliminary analysis provides a perspective on those recommendations from a neuropathological point of view.
PMCID: PMC3245887  PMID: 21507528
Nondemented; Biomarkers; MRI; CSF; Preclinical; Neuropathology; Normal
22.  Perforant path synaptic loss correlates with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease in the oldest-old 
Brain  2014;137(9):2578-2587.
Cognitive impairment in the oldest-old remains poorly understood. In a study of post-mortem tissue, Robinson et al. find that individuals with cognitive impairment remain pathologically indistinguishable from cognitively intact controls. Tangles, perforant pathway synaptic loss and hippocampal sclerosis are the major pathologies underlying dementia in the oldest-old.
Alzheimer’s disease, which is defined pathologically by abundant amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles concurrent with synaptic and neuronal loss, is the most common underlying cause of dementia in the elderly. Among the oldest-old, those aged 90 and older, other ageing-related brain pathologies are prevalent in addition to Alzheimer’s disease, including cerebrovascular disease and hippocampal sclerosis. Although definite Alzheimer’s disease pathology can distinguish dementia from normal individuals, the pathologies underlying cognitive impairment, especially in the oldest-old, remain poorly understood. We therefore conducted studies to determine the relative contributions of Alzheimer’s disease pathology, cerebrovascular disease, hippocampal sclerosis and the altered expression of three synaptic proteins to cognitive status and global cognitive function. Relative immunohistochemistry intensity measures were obtained for synaptophysin, Synaptic vesicle transporter Sv2 (now known as SV2A) and Vesicular glutamate transporter 1 in the outer molecular layer of the hippocampal dentate gyrus on the first 157 participants of ‘The 90+ Study’ who came to autopsy, including participants with dementia (n = 84), those with cognitive impairment but no dementia (n = 37) and those with normal cognition (n = 36). Thal phase, Braak stage, cerebrovascular disease, hippocampal sclerosis and Pathological 43-kDa transactive response sequence DNA-binding protein (TDP-43) were also analysed. All measures were obtained blind to cognitive diagnosis. Global cognition was tested by the Mini-Mental State Examinaton. Logistic regression analysis explored the association between the pathological measures and the odds of being in the different cognitive groups whereas multiple regression analyses explored the association between pathological measures and global cognition scores. No measure clearly distinguished the control and cognitive impairment groups. Comparing the cognitive impairment and dementia groups, synaptophysin and SV2 were reduced, whereas Braak stage, TDP-43 and hippocampal sclerosis frequency increased. Thal phase and VGLUT1 did not distinguish the cognitive impairment and dementia groups. All measures distinguished the dementia and control groups and all markers associated with the cognitive test scores. When all markers were analysed simultaneously, a reduction in synaptophysin, a high Braak stage and the presence of TDP-43 and hippocampal sclerosis associated with global cognitive function. These findings suggest that tangle pathology, hippocampal sclerosis, TDP-43 and perforant pathway synaptic loss are the major contributors to dementia in the oldest-old. Although an increase in plaque pathology and glutamatergic synaptic loss may be early events associated with cognitive impairment, we conclude that those with cognitive impairment, but no dementia, are indistinguishable from cognitively normal subjects based on the measures reported here.
PMCID: PMC4132652  PMID: 25012223
Alzheimer’s disease; Braak stage; Thal phase; synaptic loss; oldest-old; cognitive impairment
23.  MRI of hippocampal volume loss in early Alzheimer's disease in relation to ApoE genotype and biomarkers 
Brain  2009;132(4):1067-1077.
Hippocampal volume change over time, measured with MRI, has huge potential as a marker for Alzheimer's disease. The objectives of this study were: (i) to test if constant and accelerated hippocampal loss can be detected in Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment and normal ageing over short periods, e.g. 6–12 months, with MRI in the large multicentre setting of the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI); (ii) to determine the extent to which the polymorphism of the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene modulates hippocampal change; and (iii) to determine if rates of hippocampal loss correlate with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease, such as the β-amyloid (Aβ1–42) and tau proteins (tau). The MRI multicentre study included 112 cognitive normal elderly individuals, 226 mild cognitive impairment and 96 Alzheimer's disease patients who all had at least three successive MRI scans, involving 47 different imaging centres. The mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease groups showed hippocampal volume loss over 6 months and accelerated loss over 1 year. Moreover, increased rates of hippocampal loss were associated with presence of the ApoE allele ɛ4 gene in Alzheimer's disease and lower CSF Aβ1–42 in mild cognitive impairment, irrespective of ApoE genotype, whereas relations with tau were only trends. The power to measure hippocampal change was improved by exploiting correlations statistically between successive MRI observations. The demonstration of considerable hippocampal loss in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease patients over only 6 months and accelerated loss over 12 months illustrates the power of MRI to track morphological brain changes over time in a large multisite setting. Furthermore, the relations between faster hippocampal loss in the presence of ApoE allele ɛ4 and decreased CSF Aβ1–42 supports the concept that increased hippocampal loss is an indicator of Alzheimer's disease pathology and a potential marker for the efficacy of therapeutic interventions in Alzheimer's disease.
PMCID: PMC2668943  PMID: 19251758
MRI; mild cognitive impairment; ageing; human brain mapping; hippocampus
24.  Spatial Distribution of White-Matter Hyperintensities in Alzheimer Disease, Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy, and Healthy Aging 
Background and Purpose
White-matter hyperintensities (WMHs) detected by magnetic resonance imaging are thought to represent the effects of cerebral small-vessel disease and neurodegenerative changes. We sought to determine whether the spatial distribution of WMHs discriminates between different disease groups and healthy aging individuals and whether these distributions are related to local cerebral perfusion patterns.
We examined the pattern of WMHs by T2/fluid-attenuated inversion recovery–weighted magnetic resonance imaging in 3 groups of subjects: cerebral amyloid angiopathy (n=32), Alzheimer disease or mild cognitive impairment (n=41), and healthy aging (n=29). WMH frequency maps were calculated for each group, and spatial distributions were compared by voxel-wise logistic regression. WMHs were also analyzed as a function of normal cerebral perfusion patterns by overlaying a single photon emission computed tomography atlas.
Although WMH volume was greater in cerebral amyloid angiopathy and Alzheimer disease/mild cognitive impairment than in healthy aging, there was no consistent difference in the spatial distributions when controlling for total WMH volume. Hyperintensities were most frequent in the deep periventricular WM in all 3 groups. A strong inverse correlation between hyperintensity frequency and normal perfusion was demonstrated in all groups, demonstrating that WMHs were most common in regions of relatively lower normal cerebral perfusion.
WMHs show a common distribution pattern and predilection for cerebral WM regions with lower atlas-derived perfusion, regardless of the underlying diagnosis. These data suggest that across diverse disease processes, WM injury may occur in a pattern that reflects underlying tissue properties, such as relative perfusion.
PMCID: PMC2754400  PMID: 18292383
Alzheimer disease; cerebral amyloid angiopathy; magnetic resonance imaging; perfusion; white-matter hyperintensities
25.  Neuronal dysfunction and disconnection of cortical hubs in non-demented subjects with elevated amyloid burden 
Brain  2011;134(6):1635-1646.
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.
PMCID: PMC3102239  PMID: 21490054
amyloid; cortical hubs; functional connectivity; metabolism; mild cognitive impairment; positron emission tomography; magnetic resonance imaging

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