Amyloid-β accumulation in the brain is thought to be one of the earliest events in Alzheimer’s disease, possibly leading to synaptic dysfunction, neurodegeneration and cognitive/functional decline. The earliest detectable changes seen with neuroimaging appear to be amyloid-β accumulation detected by 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography imaging. However, some individuals tolerate high brain amyloid-β loads without developing symptoms, while others progressively decline, suggesting that events in the brain downstream from amyloid-β deposition, such as regional brain atrophy rates, play an important role. The main purpose of this study was to understand the relationship between the regional distributions of increased amyloid-β and the regional distribution of increased brain atrophy rates in patients with mild cognitive impairment. To simultaneously capture the spatial distributions of amyloid-β and brain atrophy rates, we employed the statistical concept of parallel independent component analysis, an effective method for joint analysis of multimodal imaging data. Parallel independent component analysis identified significant relationships between two patterns of amyloid-β deposition and atrophy rates: (i) increased amyloid-β burden in the left precuneus/cuneus and medial-temporal regions was associated with increased brain atrophy rates in the left medial-temporal and parietal regions; and (ii) in contrast, increased amyloid-β burden in bilateral precuneus/cuneus and parietal regions was associated with increased brain atrophy rates in the right medial temporal regions. The spatial distribution of increased amyloid-β and the associated spatial distribution of increased brain atrophy rates embrace a characteristic pattern of brain structures known for a high vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease pathology, encouraging for the use of 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography measures as early indicators of Alzheimer’s disease. These results may begin to shed light on the mechanisms by which amyloid-β deposition leads to neurodegeneration and cognitive decline and the development of a more specific Alzheimer’s disease-specific imaging signature for diagnosis and use of this knowledge in the development of new anti-therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.
MRI; 11C-PiB PET; Alzheimer’s disease; mild cognitive impairment; amyloid-β; amyloid; brain atrophy rate; multimodal brain imaging
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.
mild cognitive impairment; amyloid imaging; magnetic resonance imaging; cerebrospinal fluid; Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers
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.
Alzheimer’s disease; mild cognitive impairment; neuroinflammation; positron emission tomography
Some cognitively healthy individuals develop brain amyloid accumulation, suggestive of incipient Alzheimer's disease (AD), but the effect of amyloid on other potentially informative imaging modalities, such as Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), in characterizing brain changes in preclinical AD requires further exploration. In this study, a sample (N = 139, mean age 60.6, range 46 to 71) from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention (WRAP), a cohort enriched for AD risk factors, was recruited for a multimodal imaging investigation that included DTI and [C-11]Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) positron emission tomography (PET). Participants were grouped as amyloid positive (Aβ+), amyloid indeterminate (Aβi), or amyloid negative (Aβ−) based on the amount and pattern of amyloid deposition. Regional voxel-wise analyses of four DTI metrics, fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (Da), and radial diffusivity (Dr), were performed based on amyloid grouping. Three regions of interest (ROIs), the cingulum adjacent to the corpus callosum, hippocampal cingulum, and lateral fornix, were selected based on their involvement in the early stages of AD. Voxel-wise analysis revealed higher FA among Aβ+ compared to Aβ− in all three ROIs and in Aβi compared to Aβ− in the cingulum adjacent to the corpus callosum. Follow-up exploratory whole-brain analyses were consistent with the ROI findings, revealing multiple regions where higher FA was associated with greater amyloid. Lower fronto-lateral gray matter MD was associated with higher amyloid burden. Further investigation showed a negative correlation between MD and PiB signal, suggesting that Aβ accumulation impairs diffusion. Interestingly, these findings in a largely presymptomatic sample are in contradistinction to relationships reported in the literature in symptomatic disease stages of Mild Cognitive Impairment and AD, which usually show higher MD and lower FA. Together with analyses showing that cognitive function in these participants is not associated with any of the four DTI metrics, the present results suggest an early relationship between PiB and DTI, which may be a meaningful indicator of the initiating or compensatory mechanisms of AD prior to cognitive decline.
•Study cohort of preclinical subjects (N = 139) at risk for Alzheimer's disease•Examination of four DTI metrics in three groups based on global amyloid load•Greater amyloid load was associated with higher fractional anisotropy.•Diffusivity was negatively associated with amyloid in fronto-lateral gray matter.•DTI metrics were not correlated with cognition at this early disease stage.
DTI, Diffusion Tensor Imaging; PIB, Pittsburgh compound B; WRAP, Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention; FA, fractional anisotropy; MD, mean diffusivity; Da, axial diffusivity; Dr, radial diffusivity; APOE4, apolipoprotein E gene ε4; FH, (parental) family history; WM, white matter; GM, gray matter; Aβ+, amyloid positive; Aβi, amyloid indeterminate; Aβ−, amyloid negative; SPM, Statistical Parametric Mapping; FSL, FMRIB Software Library; PRELUDE, phase region expanding labeler for unwrapping discrete estimates; FUGUE, FMRIB's utility for geometrically unwarping EPIs; BET, Brain Extraction Tool; DTI-TK, Diffusion Tensor Imaging Toolkit; HARDI, high angular resolution diffusion imaging; DVR, distribution volume ratio; ICBM, International Consortium for Brain Mapping; ANTs, Advanced Normalization Tools; Cingulum–CC, cingulum adjacent to corpus callosum; Cingulum–HC, hippocampal cingulum (projecting to medial temporal lobe); PCC, posterior cingulate cortex; RAVLT, Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test; TMT, Trail Making Test; ANCOVA, Analysis of Covariance; FWE, family wise error; WASI, Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence; WRAT, Wide Range Achievement Test; Alzheimer's disease; Amyloid imaging; AD risk; White matter
Patients with early age-of-onset Alzheimer’s disease show more rapid progression, more generalized cognitive deficits and greater cortical atrophy and hypometabolism compared to late-onset patients at a similar disease stage. The biological mechanisms that underlie these differences are not well understood. The purpose of this study was to examine in vivo whether metabolic differences between early-onset and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease are associated with differences in the distribution and burden of fibrillar amyloid-β. Patients meeting criteria for probable Alzheimer’s disease (National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke and the Alzheimer's; Disease and Related Disorders Association criteria) were divided based on estimated age at first symptom (less than or greater than 65 years) into early-onset (n = 21, mean age-at-onset 55.2 ± 5.9 years) and late-onset (n = 18, 72.0 ± 4.7 years) groups matched for disease duration and severity. Patients underwent positron emission tomography with the amyloid-β-ligand [11C]-labelled Pittsburgh compound-B and the glucose analogue [18F]-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose. A group of cognitively normal controls (n = 30, mean age 73.7 ± 6.4) was studied for comparison. [11C]-labelled Pittsburgh compound-B images were analysed using Logan graphical analysis (cerebellar reference) and [18F]-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose images were normalized to mean activity in the pons. Group differences in tracer uptake were assessed on a voxel-wise basis using statistical parametric mapping, and by comparing mean values in regions of interest. To account for brain atrophy, analyses were repeated after applying partial volume correction to positron emission tomography data. Compared to normal controls, both early-onset and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease patient groups showed increased [11C]-labelled Pittsburgh compound-B uptake throughout frontal, parietal and lateral temporal cortices and striatum on voxel-wise and region of interest comparisons (P < 0.05). However, there were no significant differences in regional or global [11C]-labelled Pittsburgh compound-B binding between early-onset and late-onset patients. In contrast, early-onset patients showed significantly lower glucose metabolism than late-onset patients in precuneus/posterior cingulate, lateral temporo–parietal and occipital corticies (voxel-wise and region of interest comparisons, P < 0.05). Similar results were found for [11C]-labelled Pittsburgh compound-B and [18F]-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose using atrophy-corrected data. Age-at-onset correlated positively with glucose metabolism in precuneus, lateral parietal and occipital regions of interest (controlling for age, education and Mini Mental State Exam, P < 0.05), while no correlations were found between age-at-onset and [11C]-labelled Pittsburgh compound-B binding. In summary, a comparable burden of fibrillar amyloid-β was associated with greater posterior cortical hypometabolism in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Our data are consistent with a model in which both early amyloid-β accumulation and increased vulnerability to amyloid-β pathology play critical roles in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease in young patients.
Alzheimer’s disease; age of onset; amyloid-β; [18F]-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose; [11C]-labelled Pittsburgh compound-B
To characterize the prevalence of amyloid deposition in a clinically unimpaired elderly population, as assessed by Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, and its relationship to cognitive function, measured with a battery of neuropsychological tests.
Subjects underwent cognitive testing and PiB PET imaging (15 mCi for 90 minutes with an ECAT HR + scanner). Logan graphical analysis was applied to estimate regional PiB retention distribution volume, normalized to a cerebellar reference region volume, to yield distribution volume ratios (DVRs).
University medical center.
From a community-based sample of volunteers, 43 participants aged 65 to 88 years who did not meet diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer disease or mild cognitive impairment were included.
Main Outcome Measures
Regional PiB retention and cognitive test performance.
Of 43 clinically unimpaired elderly persons imaged, 9 (21%) showed evidence of early amyloid deposition in at least 1 brain area using an objectively determined DVR cutoff. Demographic characteristics did not differ significantly between amyloid-positive and amyloid-negative participants, and neurocognitive performance was not significantly worse among amyloid-positive compared with amyloid-negative participants.
Amyloid deposition can be identified among cognitively normal elderly persons during life, and the prevalence of asymptomatic amyloid deposition may be similar to that of symptomatic amyloid deposition. In this group of participants without clinically significant impairment, amyloid deposition was not associated with worse cognitive function, suggesting that an elderly person with a significant amyloid burden can remain cognitively normal. However, this finding is based on relatively small numbers and needs to be replicated in larger cohorts. Longitudinal follow-up of these subjects will be required to support the potential of PiB imaging to identify preclinical Alzheimer disease, or, alternatively, to show that amyloid deposition is not sufficient to cause Alzheimer disease within some specified period.
The purpose of this study was to use serial imaging to gain insight into the sequence of pathologic events in Alzheimer's disease, and the clinical features associated with this sequence. We measured change in amyloid deposition over time using serial 11C Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) positron emission tomography and progression of neurodegeneration using serial structural magnetic resonance imaging. We studied 21 healthy cognitively normal subjects, 32 with amnestic mild cognitive impairment and 8 with Alzheimer's disease. Subjects were drawn from two sources—ongoing longitudinal registries at Mayo Clinic, and the Alzheimer's disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). All subjects underwent clinical assessments, MRI and PIB studies at two time points, approximately one year apart. PIB retention was quantified in global cortical to cerebellar ratio units and brain atrophy in units of cm3 by measuring ventricular expansion. The annual change in global PIB retention did not differ by clinical group (P = 0.90), and although small (median 0.042 ratio units/year overall) was greater than zero among all subjects (P < 0.001). Ventricular expansion rates differed by clinical group (P < 0.001) and increased in the following order: cognitively normal (1.3 cm3/year) < amnestic mild cognitive impairment (2.5 cm3/year) < Alzheimer's disease (7.7 cm3/year). Among all subjects there was no correlation between PIB change and concurrent change on CDR-SB (r = −0.01, P = 0.97) but some evidence of a weak correlation with MMSE (r =−0.22, P = 0.09). In contrast, greater rates of ventricular expansion were clearly correlated with worsening concurrent change on CDR-SB (r = 0.42, P < 0.01) and MMSE (r =−0.52, P < 0.01). Our data are consistent with a model of typical late onset Alzheimer's disease that has two main features: (i) dissociation between the rate of amyloid deposition and the rate of neurodegeneration late in life, with amyloid deposition proceeding at a constant slow rate while neurodegeneration accelerates and (ii) clinical symptoms are coupled to neurodegeneration not amyloid deposition. Significant plaque deposition occurs prior to clinical decline. The presence of brain amyloidosis alone is not sufficient to produce cognitive decline, rather, the neurodegenerative component of Alzheimer's disease pathology is the direct substrate of cognitive impairment and the rate of cognitive decline is driven by the rate of neurodegeneration. Neurodegeneration (atrophy on MRI) both precedes and parallels cognitive decline. This model implies a complimentary role for MRI and PIB imaging in Alzheimer's disease, with each reflecting one of the major pathologies, amyloid dysmetabolism and neurodegeneration.
Alzheimer's disease; amyloid imaging; magnetic resonance imaging, longitudinal imaging; mild cognitive impairment; Pittsburgh compound B
Alzheimer disease (AD) is defined neuropathologically by the presence of neurofibrillary tangles and plaques associated with tau and β-amyloid protein deposition. The colocalization of microglia and β-amyloid plaques has been widely reported in pathological examination of AD and suggests that neuroinflammation may play a role in pathogenesis and/or progression. Because postmortem histopathological analyses are limited to single end-stage assessment, the time course and nature of this relationship are not well understood.
To image microglial activation and β-amyloid deposition in the brains of subjects with and without AD.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Using two carbon 11 ([11C])–labeled positron emission tomographic imaging agents, Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) and (R)-PK11195, we examined the relationship between amyloid deposition and microglial activation in different stages of AD using 5 control subjects, 6 subjects diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, and 6 patients with mild to moderate AD.
Consistent with prior reports, subjects with a clinical diagnosis of probable AD showed significantly greater levels of [11C]PiB retention than control subjects, whereas patients with mild cognitive impairment spanned a range from control-like to AD-like levels of [11C]PiB retention. Additionally, 2 asymptomatic control subjects also exhibited evidence of elevated PiB retention in regions associated with the early emergence of plaques in AD and may represent prodromal cases of AD. We observed no differences in brain [11C](R)-PK11195 retention when subjects were grouped by clinical diagnosis or the presence or absence of β-amyloid pathological findings as indicated by analyses of [11C]PiB retention.
These findings suggest that either microglial activation is limited to later stages of severe AD or [11C](R)-PK11195 is too insensitive to detect the level of microglial activation associated with mild to moderate AD.
The accumulation of β-amyloid in the brain is an early event in Alzheimer’s disease. This study presents the first patient with Alzheimer’s disease who underwent positron emission tomography imaging with the amyloid tracer, Pittsburgh Compound B to visualize fibrillar β-amyloid in the brain. Here we relate the clinical progression, amyloid and functional brain positron emission tomography imaging with molecular neuropathological alterations at autopsy to gain new insight into the relationship between β-amyloid accumulation, inflammatory processes and the cholinergic neurotransmitter system in Alzheimer’s disease brain. The patient underwent positron emission tomography studies with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose three times (at ages 53, 56 and 58 years) and twice with Pittsburgh Compound B (at ages 56 and 58 years), prior to death at 61 years of age. The patient showed a pronounced decline in cerebral glucose metabolism and cognition during disease progression, while Pittsburgh Compound B retention remained high and stable at follow-up. Neuropathological examination of the brain at autopsy confirmed the clinical diagnosis of pure Alzheimer’s disease. A comprehensive neuropathological investigation was performed in nine brain regions to measure the regional distribution of β-amyloid, neurofibrillary tangles and the levels of binding of 3H-nicotine and 125I-α-bungarotoxin to neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes, 3H-L-deprenyl to activated astrocytes and 3H-PK11195 to microglia, as well as butyrylcholinesterase activity. Regional in vivo 11C-Pittsburgh Compound B-positron emission tomography retention positively correlated with 3H-Pittsburgh Compound B binding, total insoluble β-amyloid, and β-amyloid plaque distribution, but not with the number of neurofibrillary tangles measured at autopsy. There was a negative correlation between regional fibrillar β-amyloid and levels of 3H-nicotine binding. In addition, a positive correlation was found between regional 11C-Pittsburgh Compound B positron emission tomography retention and 3H-Pittsburgh Compound B binding with the number of glial fibrillary acidic protein immunoreactive cells, but not with 3H-L-deprenyl and 3H-PK-11195 binding. In summary, high 11C-Pittsburgh Compound B positron emission tomography retention significantly correlates with both fibrillar β-amyloid and losses of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes at autopsy, suggesting a closer involvement of β-amyloid pathology with neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes than with inflammatory processes.
Alzheimer’s disease; autopsy brain; 11C-PIB positron emission tomography; inflammation; nicotinic acetylcholine receptors
Amyloid imaging represents a major advance in neuroscience, enabling the detection and quantification of pathologic protein aggregations in the brain. In this review we survey current amyloid imaging techniques, focusing on positron emission tomography (PET) with 11carbon-labelled Pittsburgh Compound-B (11C-PIB), the most extensively studied and best validated tracer. PIB binds specifically to fibrillar beta-amyloid (Aβ) deposits, and is a sensitive marker for Aβ pathology in cognitively normal older individuals and patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). PIB-PET provides us with a powerful tool to examine in vivo the relationship between amyloid deposition, clinical symptoms, and structural and functional brain changes in the continuum between normal aging and AD. Amyloid imaging studies support a model in which amyloid deposition is an early event on the path to dementia, beginning insidiously in cognitively normal individuals, and accompanied by subtle cognitive decline and functional and structural brain changes suggestive of incipient AD. As patients progress to dementia, clinical decline and neurodegeneration accelerate and proceed independently of amyloid accumulation. In the future, amyloid imaging is likely to supplement clinical evaluation in selecting patients for anti-amyloid therapies, while MRI and FDG-PET may be more appropriate markers of clinical progression.
Amyloid imaging; PET; PIB; beta-amyloid; brain aging; MCI; Alzheimer's disease
The 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.
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.
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.
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.)
The factors driving clinical heterogeneity in Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood. This study assessed the relationship between amyloid deposition, glucose metabolism and clinical phenotype in Alzheimer’s disease, and investigated how these relate to the involvement of functional networks. The study included 17 patients with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (age at onset <65 years), 12 patients with logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia and 13 patients with posterior cortical atrophy [whole Alzheimer’s disease group: age = 61.5 years (standard deviation 6.5 years), 55% male]. Thirty healthy control subjects [age = 70.8 (3.3) years, 47% male] were also included. Subjects underwent positron emission tomography with 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B and 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose. All patients met National Institute on Ageing–Alzheimer’s Association criteria for probable Alzheimer’s disease and showed evidence of amyloid deposition on 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography. We hypothesized that hypometabolism patterns would differ across variants, reflecting involvement of specific functional networks, whereas amyloid patterns would be diffuse and similar across variants. We tested these hypotheses using three complimentary approaches: (i) mass-univariate voxel-wise group comparison of 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose and 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B; (ii) generation of covariance maps across all subjects with Alzheimer’s disease from seed regions of interest specifically atrophied in each variant, and comparison of these maps to functional network templates; and (iii) extraction of 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B and 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose values from functional network templates. Alzheimer’s disease clinical groups showed syndrome-specific 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose patterns, with greater parieto-occipital involvement in posterior cortical atrophy, and asymmetric involvement of left temporoparietal regions in logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia. In contrast, all Alzheimer’s disease variants showed diffuse patterns of 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B binding, with posterior cortical atrophy additionally showing elevated uptake in occipital cortex compared with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The seed region of interest covariance analysis revealed distinct 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose correlation patterns that greatly overlapped with the right executive-control network for the early-onset Alzheimer’s disease region of interest, the left language network for the logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia region of interest, and the higher visual network for the posterior cortical atrophy region of interest. In contrast, 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B covariance maps for each region of interest were diffuse. Finally, 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose was similarly reduced in all Alzheimer’s disease variants in the dorsal and left ventral default mode network, whereas significant differences were found in the right ventral default mode, right executive-control (both lower in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and posterior cortical atrophy than logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia) and higher-order visual network (lower in posterior cortical atrophy than in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia), with a trend towards lower 18F-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose also found in the left language network in logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia. There were no differences in 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound B binding between syndromes in any of the networks. Our data suggest that Alzheimer’s disease syndromes are associated with degeneration of specific functional networks, and that fibrillar amyloid-β deposition explains at most a small amount of the clinico-anatomic heterogeneity in Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease; posterior cortical atrophy; logopenic variant of PPA; positron emission tomography (PET); functional networks
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.
event-based model; disease progression; Alzheimer’s disease; biomarkers; biomarker ordering
The brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease (AD) have three classical pathological hallmarks: amyloid-beta (Aβ) plaques, tau tangles, and neurodegeneration, including that of cholinergic neurons of the basal forebrain. However the relationship between Aβ burden and basal forebrain degeneration has not been extensively studied. To investigate this association, basal forebrain volumes were determined from magnetic resonance images of controls, subjects with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and AD patients enrolled in the longitudinal Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) and Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle (AIBL) studies. In the AIBL cohort, these volumes were correlated within groups to neocortical gray matter retention of Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) from positron emission tomography images as a measure of Aβ load. The basal forebrain volumes of AD and aMCI subjects were significantly reduced compared to those of control subjects. Anterior basal forebrain volume was significantly correlated to neocortical PiB retention in AD subjects and aMCI subjects with high Aβ burden, whereas posterior basal forebrain volume was significantly correlated to neocortical PiB retention in control subjects with high Aβ burden. Therefore this study provides new evidence for a correlation between neocortical Aβ accumulation and basal forebrain degeneration. In addition, cluster analysis showed that subjects with a whole basal forebrain volume below a determined cut-off value had a 7 times higher risk of having a worse diagnosis within ~18 months.
•The link between amyloid (Aβ) and basal forebrain degeneration in AD is unclear.•We find that basal forebrain volumes are correlated with neocortical Aβ burden.•Basal forebrain volume correlates with Aβ burden in at-risk control subjects.•Basal forebrain atrophy delineates subjects at increased risk of progressing to AD.
3D, 3-dimensional; Aβ, amyloid-beta; AD, Alzheimer's disease; ADNI, Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative; AIBL, Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle Flagship Study of Aging; aMCI, amnestic mild cognitive impairment; CSF, cerebrospinal fluid; GM, gray matter; HC, healthy control; MCI, mild cognitive impairment; MNI, Montreal Neurological Institute; MPM, maximum probability maps; MPRAGE, magnetization prepared rapid gradient echo; MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; OR, odds ratio; PET, positron emission tomography; PiB, Pittsburgh compound B; SPSS, statistics software package for the social sciences; SUVR, standard uptake value ratio; SyN, symmetric normalization; T1W, T1-weighted; TG-ROC, two-graph receiver operating characteristic; WM, white matter; Basal forebrain; Amyloid; Alzheimer's disease; Magnetic resonance imaging; PET
Inverse correlations between amyloid-β (Aβ) load measured by Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB) positron emission tomography (PET) and cerebral metabolism using [18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients, suggest local Aβ-induced metabolic insults. However, this relationship has not been well studied in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or amyloid-positive controls. Here, we explored associations of Aβ deposition with metabolism via both region-of-interest-based and voxel-based analyses in amyloid-positive control subjects and patients with MCI or AD. Metabolism in parietal and precuneus cortices of AD patients was negatively correlated with PiB retention locally, and more distantly with PiB retention in frontal cortex. In amyloid-positive controls, no clear patterns in correlations were observed. In MCI patients, there were essentially no significant, negative correlations, but there were frequent significant positive correlations between metabolism and PiB retention. Metabolism in anterior cingulate showed positive correlations with PiB in most brain areas in MCI, and metabolism and PiB retention were positively correlated locally in precuneus/parietal cortex. However, there was no significant increase in metabolism in MCI compared to age-matched controls, negating the possibility that Aβ deposition directly caused reactive hypermetabolism. This suggests that, in MCI, higher basal metabolism could either be exacerbating Aβ deposition or increasing the level of Aβ necessary for cognitive impairment sufficient for the clinical diagnosis of AD. Only after extensive Aβ deposition has been present for longer periods of time does Aβ become the driving force for decreased metabolism in clinical AD and, only in more vulnerable brain regions such as parietal and precuneus cortices.
β-amyloid (Aβ), a feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology, may precede reduced glucose metabolism and gray matter volume and cognitive decline in AD patients. Accumulation of Aβ, however, has been also reported in cognitively intact older people, although it remains unresolved whether and how Aβ deposition, glucose metabolism, and gray matter volume relate to one another in cognitively normal elderly. Fifty-two cognitively normal older adults underwent Pittsburgh Compound B positron emission tomography (PIB-PET), [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET, and structural magnetic resonance (MRI) imaging to measure whole brain amyloid deposition, glucose metabolism, and gray matter volume, respectively. Covariance patterns of these measures in association with global amyloid burden measured by PIB index were extracted using principal component analysis-based multivariate methods. Higher global amyloid burden was associated with relative increases of amyloid deposition and glucose metabolism and relative decreases of gray matter volume in brain regions collectively known as the default mode network including the posterior cingulate/precuneus, lateral parietal cortices, and medial frontal cortex. Relative increases of amyloid deposition and glucose metabolism were also noted in the lateral prefrontal cortices, and relative decreases of gray matter volume were pronounced in hippocampus. The degree of expression of the topographical patterns of the PIB data was further associated with visual memory performance when controlling for age, sex, and education. The present findings suggest that cognitively normal older adults with greater amyloid deposition are relatively hypermetabolic in frontal and parietal brain regions while undergoing gray matter volume loss in overlapping brain regions.
beta-amyloid; PET; glucose metabolism; gray matter volume; aging
Recent progress in molecular imaging has provided new important knowledge for further understanding the time course of early pathological disease processes in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Positron emission tomography (PET) amyloid beta (Aβ) tracers such as Pittsburgh Compound B detect increasing deposition of fibrillar Aβ in the brain at the prodromal stages of AD, while the levels of fibrillar Aβ appear more stable at high levels in clinical AD. There is a need for PET ligands to visualize smaller forms of Aβ, oligomeric forms, in the brain and to understand how they interact with synaptic activity and neurodegeneration. The inflammatory markers presently under development might provide further insight into the disease mechanism as well as imaging tracers for tau. Biomarkers measuring functional changes in the brain such as regional cerebral glucose metabolism and neurotransmitter activity seem to strongly correlate with clinical symptoms of cognitive decline. Molecular imaging biomarkers will have a clinical implication in AD not only for early detection of AD but for selecting patients for certain drug therapies and to test disease-modifying drugs. PET fibrillar Aβ imaging together with cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers are promising as biomarkers for early recognition of subjects at risk for AD, for identifying patients for certain therapy and for quantifying anti-amyloid effects. Functional biomarkers such as regional cerebral glucose metabolism together with measurement of the brain volumes provide valuable information about disease progression and outcome of drug treatment.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that is associated with the abnormal accumulation of amyloid-β. Much is known about regional brain atrophy in Alzheimer’s disease, yet our knowledge about the network nature of Alzheimer’s disease-associated amyloid-β accumulation is limited. We use stepwise connectivity analysis of Pittsburgh Compound B positron emission tomography images to reveal the network properties of amyloid-β deposits in normal elderly subjects and clinical patients with Alzheimer’s disease. We found that amyloid-β accumulation in the medial temporal lobe is associated with accumulation in cortical regions such as orbitofrontal, lateral temporal and precuneus/posterior cingulate cortices in Alzheimer’s disease. In normal subjects, there was a predominant association between amyloid-β deposits in the hippocampus and the midline prefrontal/orbitofrontal regions, even in those with very low amyloid-β burden. Moreover, the orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala nucleus and hippocampus exhibit hub properties in the amyloid-β network that may be critical to understanding the putative spreading mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease pathology in early stages.
Alzheimer’s disease; network; amyloid; graph theory; early stages
β-Amyloid (Aβ) deposition and vascular brain injury (VBI) frequently co-occur and are both associated with cognitive decline in aging. Determining whether a direct relationship exists between them has been challenging. We sought to understand VBI’s influence on cognition and clinical impairment, separate from and in conjunction with pathologic changes associated with Alzheimer disease (AD).
To examine the relationship between neuroimaging measures of VBI and brain Aβ deposition and their associations with cognition.
Design and Setting
A cross-sectional study in a community- and clinic-based sample recruited for elevated vascular disease risk factors.
Clinically normal (mean age, 77.1 years [N=30]), cognitively impaired (mean age, 78.0 years [N=24]), and mildly demented (mean age, 79.8 years [N=7]) participants.
Magnetic resonance imaging, Aβ (Pitts-burgh Compound B–positron emission tomographic [PiB-PET]) imaging, and cognitive testing.
Main Outcome Measures
Magnetic resonance images were rated for the presence and location of infarct (34 infarct-positive participants, 27 infarct-negative participants) and were used to quantify white matter lesion volume. The PiB-PET uptake ratios were used to create a PiB index by averaging uptake across regions vulnerable to early Aβ deposition; PiB positivity (29 PiB-positive participants, 32 PiB-negative participants) was determined from a data-derived threshold. Standardized composite cognitive measures included executive function and verbal and nonverbal memory.
Vascular brain injury and Aβ were independent in both cognitively normal and impaired participants. Infarction, particularly in cortical and subcortical gray matter, was associated with lower cognitive performance in all domains (P<.05 for all comparisons). Pittsburgh Compound B positivity was neither a significant predictor of cognition nor interacted with VBI.
Conclusions and Relevance
In this elderly sample with normal cognition to mild dementia, enriched for vascular disease, VBI was more influential than Aβ in contemporaneous cognitive function and remained predictive after including the possible influence of Aβ. There was no evidence that VBI increases the likelihood of Aβ deposition. This finding highlights the importance of VBI in mild cognitive impairment and suggests that the impact of cerebrovascular disease should be considered with respect to defining the etiology of mild cognitive impairment.
The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) is providing critical new information on biomarkers in cognitively normal elderly, persons with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The data provide insights into the progression of the pathology of AD over time, assist in understanding which biomarkers might be most useful in clinical trials, and facilitate development of disease-modifying treatments. ADNI results are intended to support new AD Treatments development; this paper considers how ADNI information can be integrated in AD drug development programs. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) amyloid beta protein (Aβ) measures can be used in Phase I studies to detect any short term effects on Aβ levels in the CSF. Phase II studies may benefit most from biomarker measures that can inform decisions about Phase III. CSF Aβ levels, CSF total tau and phospotau measures, fluorodexoyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET), Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB) amyloid imaging, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be employed to select patient in enriched trials or as outcomes for specific disease-modifying interventions. Use of biomarkers may allow Phase II trials to be conducted more efficiently with smaller populations of patients or shorted treatment times. New drug applications (NDA) may include biomarker outcomes of phase III trials. ADNI patients are highly educated and are nearly all of Caucasian ethnicity limiting the generalizability of the results to other populations commonly included in global clinical trials. ADNI has inspired or collaborates with biomarker investigations worldwide and together these studies will provide biomarker information that can reduce development times and costs, improve drug safety, optimize drug efficacy, and bring new treatments to patients with or at risk for AD.
Disruption of functional connectivity between brain regions may represent an early functional consequence of β-amyloid pathology prior to clinical Alzheimer's disease. We aimed to investigate if non-demented older individuals with increased amyloid burden demonstrate disruptions of functional whole-brain connectivity in cortical hubs (brain regions typically highly connected to multiple other brain areas) and if these disruptions are associated with neuronal dysfunction as measured with fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography. In healthy subjects without cognitive symptoms and patients with mild cognitive impairment, we used positron emission tomography to assess amyloid burden and cerebral glucose metabolism, structural magnetic resonance imaging to quantify atrophy and novel resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging processing methods to calculate whole-brain connectivity. Significant disruptions of whole-brain connectivity were found in amyloid-positive patients with mild cognitive impairment in typical cortical hubs (posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus), strongly overlapping with regional hypometabolism. Subtle connectivity disruptions and hypometabolism were already present in amyloid-positive asymptomatic subjects. Voxel-based morphometry measures indicate that these findings were not solely a consequence of regional atrophy. Whole-brain connectivity values and metabolism showed a positive correlation with each other and a negative correlation with amyloid burden. These results indicate that disruption of functional connectivity and hypometabolism may represent early functional consequences of emerging molecular Alzheimer's disease pathology, evolving prior to clinical onset of dementia. The spatial overlap between hypometabolism and disruption of connectivity in cortical hubs points to a particular susceptibility of these regions to early Alzheimer's-type neurodegeneration and may reflect a link between synaptic dysfunction and functional disconnection.
amyloid; cortical hubs; functional connectivity; metabolism; mild cognitive impairment; positron emission tomography; magnetic resonance imaging
Substantial individual differences exist in the magnitude of the cognitive decline associated with normal aging. Potential contributors to this intersubject variability include white matter hyperintensities (WMH) and preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, evident as increased brain amyloid. This study examined whether older individuals with minimal evidence of WMH and/or brain amyloid-beta (seen on positron emission tomography with the Pittsburgh compound B radiotracer - PiB) still showed significant cognitive decrements compared to the young. Older individuals, conservatively screened for normal range performance on an extensive neuropsychological battery, underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and PiB scans and performed tests of information processing speed, working memory and inhibitory function. The elderly were divided into PiB(+) and PiB(−) groups based on radiotracer retention. There were no significant differences in cognitive performance between PiB(+) and PiB(−) elderly. However, both PiB groups performed significantly worse than did the young on cognitive testing. WMH burden in the same individuals was quantified by consensus ratings using a 10 point scale with a median split defining two groups, WMH(+) and WMH(−). There were no differences in cognitive performance between WMH(+) and WMH(−) individuals, but both WMH groups performed significantly worse than did the young. Older participants who were both PiB(−) and WMH(−) also performed significantly worse than did the young in all three cognitive domains. The present results suggest that normal-elderly individuals whose brain scans show minimal evidence of amyloid deposition or WMH, still demonstrate a major decrement in comparison to younger persons on measures of processing resources and inhibitory efficiency.
amyloid; white matter hyperintensities; normal aging; cognition
Bapineuzumab, a humanized anti–amyloid-beta monoclonal antibody, is in clinical development for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
We conducted two double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trials involving patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease — one involving 1121 carriers of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele and the other involving 1331 noncarriers. Bapineuzumab or placebo, with doses varying by study, was administered by intravenous infusion every 13 weeks for 78 weeks. The primary outcome measures were scores on the 11-item cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog11, with scores ranging from 0 to 70 and higher scores indicating greater impairment) and the Disability Assessment for Dementia (DAD, with scores ranging from 0 to 100 and higher scores indicating less impairment). A total of 1090 carriers and 1114 noncarriers were included in the efficacy analysis. Secondary outcome measures included findings on positron-emission tomographic amyloid imaging with the use of Pittsburgh compound B (PIB-PET) and cerebrospinal fluid phosphorylated tau (phospho-tau) concentrations.
There were no significant between-group differences in the primary outcomes. At week 78, the between-group differences in the change from baseline in the ADAS-cog11 and DAD scores (bapineuzumab group minus placebo group) were −0.2 (P = 0.80) and −1.2 (P = 0.34), respectively, in the carrier study; the corresponding differences in the noncarrier study were −0.3 (P = 0.64) and 2.8 (P = 0.07) with the 0.5-mg-per-kilogram dose of bapineuzumab and 0.4 (P = 0.62) and 0.9 (P = 0.55) with the 1.0-mg-per-kilogram dose. The major safety finding was amyloid-related imaging abnormalities with edema among patients receiving bapineuzumab, which increased with bapineuzumab dose and APOE ε4 allele number and which led to discontinuation of the 2.0-mg-per-kilogram dose. Between-group differences were observed with respect to PIB-PET and cerebrospinal fluid phospho-tau concentrations in APOE ε4 allele carriers but not in noncarriers.
Bapineuzumab did not improve clinical outcomes in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, despite treatment differences in biomarkers observed in APOE ε4 carriers. (Funded by Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy and Pfizer; Bapineuzumab 301 and 302 ClinicalTrials.gov numbers, NCT00575055 and NCT00574132, and EudraCT number, 2009-012748-17.)
Imaging agents capable of assessing amyloid-beta (Aβ) content in vivo in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) subjects likely will be important as diagnostic agents to detect Aβ plaques in the brain, to help test the amyloid cascade hypothesis of AD, and as an aid to assess the efficacy of anti-amyloid therapeutics currently under development and in clinical trials. Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging studies of amyloid deposition in human subjects with several Aβ imaging agents are currently underway. We reported the first PET studies of the carbon-11-labeled thioflavin-T derivative Pittsburgh Compound B ([11C]PiB) in 2004, and this work has subsequently been extended to include a variety of subject groups including AD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and healthy controls. The ability to quantify regional Aβ plaque load in the brains of living human subjects has provided a means to begin to apply this technology as a diagnostic agent to detect regional concentrations of Aβ plaques and as a surrogate marker of therapeutic efficacy in anti-amyloid drug trials.
Amyloid imaging; amyloid-beta; Aβ; PiB; Alzheimer’s disease; anti-amyloid therapy
Amyloid PET tracers have been developed for in vivo detection of brain fibrillar amyloid deposition in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). To serve as an early biomarker in AD the amyloid PET tracers need to be analysed in multicentre clinical studies.
In this study 238 [11C]Pittsburgh compound-B (PIB) datasets from five different European centres were pooled. Of these 238 datasets, 18 were excluded, leaving [11C]PIB datasets from 97 patients with clinically diagnosed AD (mean age 69 ± 8 years), 72 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI; mean age 67.5 ± 8 years) and 51 healthy controls (mean age 67.4 ± 6 years) available for analysis. Of the MCI patients, 64 were longitudinally followed for 28 ± 15 months. Most participants (175 out of 220) were also tested for apolipoprotein E (ApoE) genotype.
[11C]PIB retention in the neocortical and subcortical brain regions was significantly higher in AD patients than in age-matched controls. Intermediate [11C]PIB retention was observed in MCI patients, with a bimodal distribution (64 % MCI PIB-positive and 36 % MCI PIB-negative), which was significantly different the pattern in both the AD patients and controls. Higher [11C]PIB retention was observed in MCI ApoE ε4 carriers compared to non-ApoE ε4 carriers (p < 0.005). Of the MCI PIB-positive patients, 67 % had converted to AD at follow-up while none of the MCI PIB-negative patients converted.
This study demonstrated the robustness of [11C]PIB PET as a marker of neocortical fibrillar amyloid deposition in brain when assessed in a multicentre setting. MCI PIB-positive patients showed more severe memory impairment than MCI PIB-negative patients and progressed to AD at an estimated rate of 25 % per year. None of the MCI PIB-negative patients converted to AD, and thus PIB negativity had a 100 % negative predictive value for progression to AD. This supports the notion that PIB-positive scans in MCI patients are an indicator of prodromal AD.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00259-012-2237-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Amyloid; Multicentre PET; PIB; MCI; Alzheimer’s disease; Mild cognitive impairment; Cognition