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1.  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.
doi:10.1093/brain/awq277
PMCID: PMC2965425  PMID: 20935035
mild cognitive impairment; amyloid imaging; magnetic resonance imaging; cerebrospinal fluid; Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers
2.  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.
doi:10.1016/j.jalz.2011.09.172
PMCID: PMC3329969  PMID: 22047634
3.  Imaging amyloid deposition in Lewy body diseases 
Neurology  2008;71(12):903-910.
Background:
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).
Objectives:
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.
Methods:
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.
Results:
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.
Conclusions:
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.
GLOSSARY
= 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.
doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000326146.60732.d6
PMCID: PMC2637553  PMID: 18794492
4.  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.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp105
PMCID: PMC2714060  PMID: 19439419
Early Alzheimer's disease; individual diagnosis; mild cognitive impairment; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); cognitive reserve
5.  Relationships between biomarkers in aging and dementia 
Neurology  2009;73(15):1193-1199.
Background:
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.
Methods:
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.
Results:
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.
Conclusions:
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.
GLOSSARY
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.
doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181bc010c
PMCID: PMC2764726  PMID: 19822868
6.  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.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp307
PMCID: PMC2822636  PMID: 20008455
cognitive reserve; functional MRI; multiple sclerosis; Alzheimer's; disease; default network
7.  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.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp062
PMCID: PMC2677798  PMID: 19339253
Alzheimer's disease; amyloid imaging; magnetic resonance imaging, longitudinal imaging; mild cognitive impairment; Pittsburgh compound B
8.  Relationship of dementia screening tests with biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease 
Brain  2010;133(11):3290-3300.
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.
doi:10.1093/brain/awq204
PMCID: PMC2965421  PMID: 20823087
AD8; Alzheimer’s disease; screening; biomarkers; preclinical; cognition
9.  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.
doi:10.1093/brain/awt062
PMCID: PMC3634198  PMID: 23576130
amyloid-β; Alzheimer; dimer; trimer; Aβ*56; oligomer
10.  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.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.02.018
PMCID: PMC3245887  PMID: 21507528
Nondemented; Biomarkers; MRI; CSF; Preclinical; Neuropathology; Normal
11.  Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Mild Cognitive Impairment 
Archives of neurology  2010;67(1):71-79.
Objectives
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.
Design
Six-month, randomized, controlled, clinical trial.
Setting
Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System clinical research unit.
Participants
Thirty-three adults (17 women) with amnestic mild cognitive impairment ranging in age from 55 to 85 years (mean age,70 years).
Intervention
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1001/archneurol.2009.307
PMCID: PMC3056436  PMID: 20065132
12.  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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1161/STR.0b013e3182299496
PMCID: PMC3778669  PMID: 21778438
AHA Scientific Statements; vascular dementia; Alzheimer disease; risk factors; prevention; treatment
13.  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.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp007
PMCID: PMC2668943  PMID: 19251758
MRI; mild cognitive impairment; ageing; human brain mapping; hippocampus
14.  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.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr066
PMCID: PMC3102239  PMID: 21490054
amyloid; cortical hubs; functional connectivity; metabolism; mild cognitive impairment; positron emission tomography; magnetic resonance imaging
15.  Prevalence of Alzheimer’s Pathologic Endophenotypes in Asymptomatic and Mildly Impaired First-Degree Relatives 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60747.
Objective
A positive family history (FH) is a risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Our aim was to examine the effects of FH on pathological and neuronal loss biomarkers across the cognitive spectrum.
Design
Cross-sectional analyses of data from a national biomarker study.
Setting
The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative national study.
Patients
257 subjects (ages 55–89), divided into cognitively normal (CN), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and AD groups, with CSF and FH data.
Outcome Measures
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) Aβ42, tau, and tau/Aβ42 ratio, MRI-measured hippocampal volumes.
Statistics
Univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results
In MCI, CSF Aβ42 was lower (p = .005), t-tau was higher (p = 0.02) and t-tau/Aβ42 ratio was higher (p = 0.002) in FH+ than FH− subjects. A significant residual effect of FH on pathologic markers in MCI remained after adjusting for ApoE4 (p<0.05). Among CN, 47% of FH+ exhibited “pathologic signature of AD” (CSF t-tau/Aβ42 ratio >0.39) versus 21% of FH− controls (p = 0.03). The FH effect was not significant in AD subjects. Hippocampal and intracranial volumes did not differ between FH+ and FH− subjects in any group.
Conclusions
A positive family history of late-onset AD is associated with a higher prevalence of an abnormal cerebral beta-amyloid and tau protein phenotype in MCI. The unexplained genetic heritability in family history is about the half the size of the ApoE4 effect. Longitudinal studies are warranted to more definitively examine this issue.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060747
PMCID: PMC3629168  PMID: 23613741
16.  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.
Background
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).
Methods/design
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.
Discussion
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
doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-167
PMCID: PMC3534144  PMID: 23050829
17.  Executive Function Changes before Memory in Preclinical Alzheimer’s Pathology: A Prospective, Cross-Sectional, Case Control Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79378.
Background
Early treatment of Alzheimer’s disease may reduce its devastating effects. By focusing research on asymptomatic individuals with Alzheimer’s disease pathology (the preclinical stage), earlier indicators of disease may be discovered. Decreasing cerebrospinal fluid beta-amyloid42 is the first indicator of preclinical disorder, but it is not known which pathology causes the first clinical effects. Our hypothesis is that neuropsychological changes within the normal range will help to predict preclinical disease and locate early pathology.
Methods and Findings
We recruited adults with probable Alzheimer’s disease or asymptomatic cognitively healthy adults, classified after medical and neuropsychological examination. By logistic regression, we derived a cutoff for the cerebrospinal fluid beta amyloid42/tau ratios that correctly classified 85% of those with Alzheimer’s disease. We separated the asymptomatic group into those with (n = 34; preclinical Alzheimer’s disease) and without (n = 36; controls) abnormal beta amyloid42/tau ratios; these subgroups had similar distributions of age, gender, education, medications, apolipoprotein-ε genotype, vascular risk factors, and magnetic resonance imaging features of small vessel disease. Multivariable analysis of neuropsychological data revealed that only Stroop Interference (response inhibition) independently predicted preclinical pathology (OR = 0.13, 95% CI = 0.04–0.42). Lack of longitudinal and post-mortem data, older age, and small population size are limitations of this study.
Conclusions
Our data suggest that clinical effects from early amyloid pathophysiology precede those from hippocampal intraneuronal neurofibrillary pathology. Altered cerebrospinal fluid beta amyloid42 with decreased executive performance before memory impairment matches the deposits of extracellular amyloid that appear in the basal isocortex first, and only later involve the hippocampus. We propose that Stroop Interference may be an additional important screen for early pathology and useful to monitor treatment of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease; measures of executive and memory functions in a longitudinal design will be necessary to more fully evaluate this approach.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079378
PMCID: PMC3832547  PMID: 24260210
18.  Cognitive and Cortical Plasticity Deficits Correlate with Altered Amyloid-β CSF Levels in Multiple Sclerosis 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2010;36(3):559-568.
Cognitive dysfunction is of frequent observation in multiple sclerosis (MS). It is associated with gray matter pathology, brain atrophy, and altered connectivity, and recent evidence showed that acute inflammation can exacerbate mental deficits independently of the primary functional system involved. In this study, we measured cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of amyloid-β1−42 and τ protein in MS and in clinically isolated syndrome patients, as both proteins have been associated with cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease (AD). In AD, amyloid-β1–42 accumulates in the brain as insoluble extracellular plaques, possibly explaining why soluble amyloid-β1–42 is reduced in the CSF of these patients. In our sample of MS patients, amyloid-β1–42 levels were significantly lower in patients cognitively impaired (CI) and were inversely correlated with the number of Gadolinium-enhancing (Gd+) lesions at the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Positive correlations between amyloid-β1–42 levels and measures of attention and concentration were also found. Furthermore, abnormal neuroplasticity of the cerebral cortex, explored with θ burst stimulation (TBS), was observed in CI patients, and a positive correlation was found between amyloid-β1–42 CSF contents and the magnitude of long-term potentiation-like effects induced by TBS. No correlation was conversely found between τ protein concentrations and MRI findings, cognitive parameters, and TBS effects in these patients. Together, our results indicate that in MS, central inflammation is able to alter amyloid-β metabolism by reducing its concentration in the CSF and leading to impairment of synaptic plasticity and cognitive function.
doi:10.1038/npp.2010.187
PMCID: PMC3055691  PMID: 20944553
cognition; inflammation; LTP; τ protein; transcranial magnetic stimulation; Alzheimer's disease; cognition; plasticity; neurodegeneration/neuroprotection; inflammation; LTP; τ protein; transcranial magnetic stimulation
19.  The Dynamics of Cortical and Hippocampal Atrophy in Alzheimer Disease 
Archives of neurology  2011;68(8):1040-1048.
Objective
To characterize rates of regional Alzheimer disease (AD)–specific brain atrophy across the presymptomatic, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia stages.
Design
Multicenter case-control study of neuroimaging, cerebrospinal fluid, and cognitive test score data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.
Setting
Research centers across the United States and Canada.
Patients
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1001/archneurol.2011.167
PMCID: PMC3248949  PMID: 21825241
20.  Effects of cerebrovascular disease on amyloid precursor protein metabolites in cerebrospinal fluid 
Background
Alzheimer's disease (AD) and cerebrovascular disease (CVD) including chronic small vessel disease of the brain (SVD) are the most frequent causes of dementia. AD is associated with metabolism of amyloid precursor protein (APP) and low levels of amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) X-42 in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CVD and SVD are established risk factors for AD, brain white matter lesions (WML) are established surrogate markers for SVD and are also associated with reduced CSF AβX-42.
A cohort survey was performed to examine whether SVD or acute CVD affects APP metabolism and to explore a potential association between WML and APP metabolism in two groups; cognitively impaired patients, subjective and mild (SCI and MCI) and stroke patients. Through measurements of CSF APP metabolite levels in patients with a wide range of WML volumes, this study aimed to determine how SVD influences APP metabolism.
Methods
Sixty-three patients were included: 37 with subjective cognitive impairment (SCI) or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) without stroke, and 26 after acute stroke. Chronic and acute WML volume and infarct volume were determined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) post-scan processing, and CSF levels of α- and β-cleaved soluble APP (sAPP-α and sAPP-β, AβX-38, AβX-40 and AβX-42) were determined. The Mann-Whitney test was used to compare the patient groups. Chronic and acute WML volumes, infarct volume, age, and sex were used as predictors for CSF biomarker levels in linear regression analysis.
Results
CSF levels of sAPP-α and sAPP-β were strongly correlated (r = 0.95, p < 0.001) and lower levels of these biomarkers were found in the stroke group than in the SCI/MCI group; median sAPP-α 499.5 vs. 698.0 ng/mL (p < 0.001), sAPP-β 258.0 vs. 329.0 ng/mL (p < 0.005). CSF levels of sAPP-α, sAPP-β, AβX-38, AβX-40 and AβX-42 were inversely correlated with chronic WML volume (p ≤ 0.005; p ≤ 0.01; p ≤ 0.01; p ≤ 0.05; p ≤ 0.05 respectively), but not with acute WML or infarct volumes.
Conclusions
Lower CSF levels of sAPP-α and sAPP-β in the stroke group than in the SCI/MCI group and an inverse correlation with chronic WML indicate that ischemia lowers the levels of CSF sAPP metabolites and suggests that APP axonal transport or metabolism may be affected in SVD of the brain.
doi:10.1186/1743-8454-7-10
PMCID: PMC2921347  PMID: 20673341
21.  Clinical and Biomarker Changes in Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Disease 
The New England journal of medicine  2012;367(9):795-804.
BACKGROUND
The order and magnitude of pathologic processes in Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood, partly because the disease develops over many years. Autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease has a predictable age at onset and provides an opportunity to determine the sequence and magnitude of pathologic changes that culminate in symptomatic disease.
METHODS
In this prospective, longitudinal study, we analyzed data from 128 participants who underwent baseline clinical and cognitive assessments, brain imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood tests. We used the participant’s age at baseline assessment and the parent’s age at the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to calculate the estimated years from expected symptom onset (age of the participant minus parent’s age at symptom onset). We conducted cross-sectional analyses of baseline data in relation to estimated years from expected symptom onset in order to determine the relative order and magnitude of pathophysiological changes.
RESULTS
Concentrations of amyloid-beta (Aβ)42 in the CSF appeared to decline 25 years before expected symptom onset. Aβ deposition, as measured by positron-emission tomography with the use of Pittsburgh compound B, was detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Increased concentrations of tau protein in the CSF and an increase in brain atrophy were detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Cerebral hypometabolism and impaired episodic memory were observed 10 years before expected symptom onset. Global cognitive impairment, as measured by the Mini–Mental State Examination and the Clinical Dementia Rating scale, was detected 5 years before expected symptom onset, and patients met diagnostic criteria for dementia at an average of 3 years after expected symptom onset.
CONCLUSIONS
We found that autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease was associated with a series of pathophysiological changes over decades in CSF biochemical markers of Alzheimer’s disease, brain amyloid deposition, and brain metabolism as well as progressive cognitive impairment. Our results require confirmation with the use of longitudinal data and may not apply to patients with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging and others; DIAN ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00869817.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1202753
PMCID: PMC3474597  PMID: 22784036
22.  Neuropathologic Correlates of Hippocampal Atrophy in the Elderly: A Clinical, Pathologic, Postmortem MRI Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26286.
The volume of the hippocampus measured with structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is increasingly used as a biomarker for Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the neuropathologic basis of structural MRI changes in the hippocampus in the elderly has not been directly assessed. Postmortem MRI of the aging human brain, combined with histopathology, could be an important tool to address this issue. Therefore, this study combined postmortem MRI and histopathology in 100 elderly subjects from the Rush Memory and Aging Project and the Religious Orders Study. First, to validate the information contained in postmortem MRI data, we tested the hypothesis that postmortem hippocampal volume is smaller in subjects with clinically diagnosed Alzheimer's disease compared to subjects with mild or no cognitive impairment, as observed in antemortem imaging studies. Subsequently, the relations of postmortem hippocampal volume to AD pathology, Lewy bodies, amyloid angiopathy, gross infarcts, microscopic infarcts, and hippocampal sclerosis were examined. It was demonstrated that hippocampal volume was smaller in persons with a clinical diagnosis of AD compared to those with no cognitive impairment (P = 2.6×10−7) or mild cognitive impairment (P = 9.6×10−7). Additionally, hippocampal volume was related to multiple cognitive abilities assessed proximate to death, with its strongest association with episodic memory. Among all pathologies investigated, the most significant factors related to lower hippocampal volume were shown to be AD pathology (P = 0.0018) and hippocampal sclerosis (P = 4.2×10−7). Shape analysis allowed for visualization of the hippocampal regions most associated with volume loss for each of these two pathologies. Overall, this investigation confirmed the relation of hippocampal volume measured postmortem to clinical diagnosis of AD and measures of cognition, and concluded that both AD pathology and hippocampal sclerosis affect hippocampal volume in old age, though the impacts of each pathology on the shape of the hippocampus may differ.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026286
PMCID: PMC3197137  PMID: 22043314
23.  Disease progression model for Clinical Dementia Rating–Sum of Boxes in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s subjects from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative 
Background
The objective of this analysis was to develop a nonlinear disease progression model, using an expanded set of covariates that captures the longitudinal Clinical Dementia Rating Scale–Sum of Boxes (CDR–SB) scores. These were derived from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative ADNI-1 study, of 301 Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment patients who were followed for 2–3 years.
Methods
The model describes progression rate and baseline disease score as a function of covariates. The covariates that were tested fell into five groups: a) hippocampal volume; b) serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers; c) demographics and apolipoprotein Epsilon 4 (ApoE4) allele status; d) baseline cognitive tests; and e) disease state and comedications.
Results
Covariates associated with baseline disease severity were disease state, hippocampal volume, and comedication use. Disease progression rate was influenced by baseline CSF biomarkers, Trail-Making Test part A score, delayed logical memory test score, and current level of impairment as measured by CDR–SB. The rate of disease progression was dependent on disease severity, with intermediate scores around the inflection point score of 10 exhibiting high disease progression rate. The CDR–SB disease progression rate in a typical patient, with late mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s disease, was estimated to be approximately 0.5 and 1.4 points/year, respectively.
Conclusions
In conclusion, this model describes disease progression in terms of CDR–SB changes in patients and its dependency on novel covariates. The CSF biomarkers included in the model discriminate mild cognitive impairment subjects as progressors and nonprogressors. Therefore, the model may be utilized for optimizing study designs, through patient population enrichment and clinical trial simulations.
Video abstract
doi:10.2147/NDT.S62323
PMCID: PMC4049432  PMID: 24926196
NONMEM®; beta-regression; CSF Aβ1–42; hippocampal volume; trial enrichment
24.  Shapes of the Trajectories of Five Major Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease 
Archives of neurology  2012;69(7):856-867.
Objective
To characterize the shape of the trajectories of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) biomarkers as a function of MMSE.
Design
Longitudinal registries from the Mayo Clinic and the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI).
Patients
Two different samples (n=343 and n=598) were created that spanned the cognitive spectrum from normal to AD dementia. Subgroup analyses were performed in members of both cohorts (n=243 and n=328) who were amyloid positive at baseline.
Main Outcome Measures
The shape of biomarker trajectories as a function of MMSE, adjusted for age, was modeled and described as baseline (cross-sectional) and within-subject longitudinal effects. Biomarkers evaluated were cerebro spinal fluid (CSF) Aβ42 and tau; amyloid and fluoro deoxyglucose position emission tomography (PET) imaging, and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Results
Baseline biomarker values generally worsened (i.e., non-zero slope) with lower baseline MMSE. Baseline hippocampal volume, amyloid PET and FDG PET values plateaued (i.e., non-linear slope) with lower MMSE in one or more analyses. Longitudinally, within-subject rates of biomarker change were associated with worsening MMSE. Non-constant within-subject rates (deceleration) of biomarker change were found in only one model.
Conclusions
Biomarker trajectory shapes by MMSE were complex and were affected by interactions with age and APOE status. Non-linearity was found in several baseline effects models. Non-constant within-subject rates of biomarker change were found in only one model, likely due to limited within-subject longitudinal follow up. Creating reliable models that describe the full trajectories of AD biomarkers will require significant additional longitudinal data in individual participants.
doi:10.1001/archneurol.2011.3405
PMCID: PMC3595157  PMID: 22409939
Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; cerebro spinal fluid; amyloid PET imaging; FDG PET imaging
25.  Cognition, Reserve, and Amyloid Deposition in Normal Aging 
Annals of neurology  2010;67(3):353-364.
Objective
To determine whether amyloid deposition is associated with impaired neuropsychological (NP) performance and whether cognitive reserve (CR) modifies this association.
Methods
In 66 normal elderly controls and 17 patients with Alzheimer disease (AD), we related brain retention of Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) to NP performance and evaluated the impact of CR using education and American National Adult Reading Test intelligence quotient as proposed proxies.
Results
We found in the combined sample of subjects that PiB retention in the precuneus was inversely related to NP performance, especially in tests of memory function, but also in tests of working memory, semantic processing, language, and visuospatial perception. CR significantly modified the relationship, such that at progressively higher levels of CR, increased amyloid deposition was less or not at all associated with poorer neuropsychological performance. In a subsample of normal controls, both the main effect of amyloid deposition of worse memory performance and the interaction with CR were replicated using a particularly challenging memory test.
Interpretation
Amyloid deposition is associated with lower cognitive performance both in AD patients and in the normal elderly, but the association is modified by CR, suggesting that CR may be protective against amyloid-related cognitive impairment.
doi:10.1002/ana.21904
PMCID: PMC3074985  PMID: 20373347

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