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 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
To assess whether family history (FH) of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) alone influences AD biomarker abnormalities.
Adult Children Study (ACS).
Washington University's Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.
Cognitively normal middle to older age individuals with and without a FH for AD (n=269).
Main Outcome Measures
Clinical and cognitive measures, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based brain volumes, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)-based white matter microstructure, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers, and molecular imaging of cerebral fibrillar amyloid with positron emission tomography (PET) using the [11C] benzothiazole tracer, Pittsburgh Compound-B (PIB).
A positive FH for AD was associated with an age-related decrease of CSF Aβ42; the ε4 allele of apolipoprotein E (APOE4) did not alter this effect. Age-adjusted CSF Aβ42 was decreased for individuals with APOE4 compared with those without, and the decrease was larger for individuals with a positive FH compared with those without. The variation of CSF tau and PIB mean cortical binding potential (MCBP) increased by age. For individuals younger than 55, an age-related increase in MCBP was associated with APOE4, but not FH. For individuals older than 55, a positive FH and a positive APOE4 implied the fastest age-related increase in MCBP. A positive FH was associated with decreased fractional anisotropy from DTI in the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum.
Independent of APOE4, FH is associated with age-related change of several CSF, PIB and DTI biomarkers in cognitively normal middle to older age individuals, suggesting that non-APOE susceptibility genes for AD influence AD biomarkers.
Imaging has played a variety of roles in the study of Alzheimer disease (AD) over the past four decades. Initially, computed tomography (CT) and then magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were used diagnostically to rule out other causes of dementia. More recently, a variety of imaging modalities including structural and functional MRI and positron emission tomography (PET) studies of cerebral metabolism with fluoro-deoxy-d-glucose (FDG) and amyloid tracers such as Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB) have shown characteristic changes in the brains of patients with AD, and in prodromal and even presymptomatic states that can help rule-in the AD pathophysiological process. No one imaging modality can serve all purposes as each have unique strengths and weaknesses. These modalities and their particular utilities are discussed in this article. The challenge for the future will be to combine imaging biomarkers to most efficiently facilitate diagnosis, disease staging, and, most importantly, development of effective disease-modifying therapies.
Various neuroimaging modalities (e.g., MRI and PET) have shown characteristic changes in the brains of patients with Alzheimer disease. Identifying imaging biomarkers will facilitate diagnosis, disease staging, and drug development.
The development of prevention therapies for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) would greatly benefit from biomarkers that are sensitive to subtle brain changes occurring in the preclinical stage of the disease. Early diagnostics is necessary to identify and treat at risk individuals before irreversible neuronal loss occurs. In vivo imaging has long been used to evaluate brain structural and functional abnormalities as predictors of future AD in non-demented persons. Prior to development of amyloid-β (Aβ) tracers for positron emission tomography (PET), the most widely utilized PET tracer in AD was 2-[P18PF]fluoro-2-Deoxy-D-glucose (PFDG) PET. For over 20 years, FDG-PET has been used to measure cerebral metabolic rates of glucose (CMRglc), a proxy for neuronal activity, in AD. Many studies have shown that CMRglc reductions occur early in AD, correlate with disease progression, and predict histopathological diagnosis. This paper reviews reports of clinical and preclinical CMRglc reductions observed in association with genetic and non-genetic risk factors for AD. We then briefly review brain Aβ PET imaging studies in AD and discuss the potential of combining symptoms-sensitive FDG-PET measures with pathology-specific Aβ-PET to improve the early detection of AD.
amyloid-β; cerebral metabolic rate of glucose (CMRglc); normal aging; positron emission tomography; preclinical detection
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
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
Currently [F-18]FDDNP is the only PET imaging probe with the ability to visualize hyperphosphorylated tau fibrillar aggregates in living subjects. In this work, we evaluate in vivo [F-18]FDDNP labeling of brain neuropathology, primarily tau fibrillar aggregates, in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a human tauopathy usually lacking β-amyloid deposits.
Fifteen patients with PSP received [F-18]FDDNP PET scanning. [F-18]FDDNP distribution volume ratios (DVR), in reference to cerebellar gray matter, were determined for cortical and subcortical areas and compared with those of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) with short disease duration, and age-matched control subjects without neurodegenerative disorders.
[F-18]FDDNP binding was present in subcortical areas (e.g., striatum, thalamus, subthalamic region, midbrain and cerebellar white matter) regardless of disease severity, with progressive subcortical and cortical involvement as disease severity increased. Brain patterns of [F-18]FDDNP binding were entirely consistent with the known pathology distribution for PSP. High midbrain and subthalamic region [F-18]FDDNP binding was distinctive for PSP subjects and separated them from controls and patients with PD.
These results provide evidence that [F-18]FDDNP is a sensitive in vivo PET imaging probe to map and quantify the dynamic regional localization of tau fibrillar aggregates in PSP. Furthermore, [F-18]FDDNP PET may provide a tool to detect changes in tau pathology distribution either associated with disease progression or as a treatment biomarker for future tau-specific therapies. Patterns of [F-18]FDDNP binding may also be useful in diagnosis early in disease presentation when clinical distinction among neurodegenerative disorders is often difficult.
Key-words: positron emission tomography; FDDNP; progressive supranuclear palsy; Parkinson’s disease; neuropathology; hyperphosphorylated tau aggregates; tauopathy
The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) is an ongoing, longitudinal, multicenter study designed to develop clinical, imaging, genetic, and biochemical biomarkers for the early detection and tracking of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The study aimed to enroll 400 subjects with early mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 200 subjects with early AD, and 200 normal control subjects; $67 million funding was provided by both the public and private sectors, including the National Institute on Aging, 13 pharmaceutical companies, and 2 foundations that provided support through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. This article reviews all papers published since the inception of the initiative and summarizes the results as of February 2011. The major accomplishments of ADNI have been as follows: (1) the development of standardized methods for clinical tests, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers in a multicenter setting; (2) elucidation of the patterns and rates of change of imaging and CSF biomarker measurements in control subjects, MCI patients, and AD patients. CSF biomarkers are consistent with disease trajectories predicted by β-amyloid cascade (Hardy, J Alzheimers Dis 2006;9(Suppl 3):151–3) and tau-mediated neurodegeneration hypotheses for AD, whereas brain atrophy and hypometabolism levels show predicted patterns but exhibit differing rates of change depending on region and disease severity; (3) the assessment of alternative methods of diagnostic categorization. Currently, the best classifiers combine optimum features from multiple modalities, including MRI, [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose-PET, CSF biomarkers, and clinical tests; (4) the development of methods for the early detection of AD. CSF biomarkers, β-amyloid 42 and tau, as well as amyloid PET may reflect the earliest steps in AD pathology in mildly symptomatic or even nonsymptomatic subjects, and are leading candidates for the detection of AD in its preclinical stages; (5) the improvement of clinical trial efficiency through the identification of subjects most likely to undergo imminent future clinical decline and the use of more sensitive outcome measures to reduce sample sizes. Baseline cognitive and/or MRI measures generally predicted future decline better than other modalities, whereas MRI measures of change were shown to be the most efficient outcome measures; (6) the confirmation of the AD risk loci CLU, CR1, and PICALM and the identification of novel candidate risk loci; (7) worldwide impact through the establishment of ADNI-like programs in Europe, Asia, and Australia; (8) understanding the biology and pathobiology of normal aging, MCI, and AD through integration of ADNI biomarker data with clinical data from ADNI to stimulate research that will resolve controversies about competing hypotheses on the etiopathogenesis of AD, thereby advancing efforts to find disease-modifying drugs for AD; and (9) the establishment of infrastructure to allow sharing of all raw and processed data without embargo to interested scientific investigators throughout the world. The ADNI study was extended by a 2-year Grand Opportunities grant in 2009 and a renewal of ADNI (ADNI-2) in October 2010 through to 2016, with enrollment of an additional 550 participants.
Alzheimer's disease; Mild cognitive impairment; Amyloid; Tau; Biomarker
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.
The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) is an ongoing, longitudinal, multicenter study designed to develop clinical, imaging, genetic and biochemical biomarkers for the early detection and tracking of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The study aimed to enroll 400 subjects with early mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 200 subjects with early AD and 200 normal controls and $67 million funding was provided by both the public and private sectors including the National Institutes on Aging, thirteen pharmaceutical companies and two Foundations that provided support through the Foundation for NIH (FNIH). This article reviews all papers published since the inception of the initiative and summarizes the results as of February, 2011. The major accomplishments of ADNI have been 1) the development of standardized methods for clinical, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers in a multi-center setting; 2) elucidation of the patterns and rates of change of imaging and CSF biomarker measurements in control, MCI and AD patients. CSF biomarkers are consistent with disease trajectories predicted by β amyloid (Aβ) cascade  and tau mediated neurodegeneration hypotheses for AD while brain atrophy and hypometabolism levels show predicted patterns but exhibit differing rates of change depending on region and disease severity; 3) the assessment of alternative methods of diagnostic categorization. Currently, the best classifiers combine optimum features from multiple modalities including MRI, FDG-PET, CSF biomarkers and clinical tests; 4) the development of methods for the early detection of AD. CSF biomarkers, Aβ42 and tau as well as amyloid PET may reflect the earliest steps in AD pathology in mildly or even non-symptomatic subjects and are leading candidates for the detection of AD in its preclinical stages; 5) the improvement of clinical trial efficiency through the identification of subjects most likely to undergo imminent future clinical decline and the use of more sensitive outcome measures to reduce sample sizes. Baseline cognitive and/or MRI measures generally predicted future decline better than other modalities whereas MRI measures of change were shown to be the most efficient outcome measures; 6) the confirmation of the AD risk loci CLU, CR1 and PICALM and the identification of novel candidate risk loci; 7) worldwide impact through the establishment of ADNI-like programs in Europe, Asia and Australia; 8) understanding the biology and pathobiology of normal aging, MCI and AD through integration of ADNI biomarker data with clinical data from ADNI to stimulate research that will resolve controversies about competing hypotheses on the etiopathogenesis of AD thereby advancing efforts to find disease modifying drugs for AD; and 9) the establishment of infrastructure to allow sharing of all raw and processed data without embargo to interested scientific investigators throughout the world. The ADNI study was extended by a two year Grand Opportunities grant in 2009 and a renewal of ADNI (ADNI2) in October, 2010 through to 2016, with enrollment of an additional 550 participants.
Down syndrome appears to be associated with a virtually certain risk of fibrillar amyloid-β (Aβ) pathology by the age of 40 and a very high risk of dementia at older ages. The positron emission tomography (PET) ligand florbetapir F18 has been shown to characterize fibrillar Aβ in the living human brain and to provide a close correlation with subsequent Aβ neuropathology in individuals proximate to and after the end of life. The extent to which the most frequently used PET ligands can be used to detect fibrillar Aβ in patients with Down syndrome remains to be determined.
To characterize PET estimates of fibrillar Aβ burden in a Down syndrome patient very close to the end of life and to compare them with neuropathologic assessment made after his death.
With the family’s informed consent, florbetapir PET was used to study a 55-year-old Down syndrome patient with Alzheimer disease near the end of life; his brain was donated for neuropathologic assessment when he died 14 days later. Visual ratings of cerebral florbetapir uptake were performed by trained readers who were masked to the patient’s diagnosis as part of a larger study, and an automated algorithm was used to characterize regional-to-cerebellar standard uptake value ratios in 6 cerebral regions of interest. Neuropathologic assessments were performed masked to the patient’s diagnosis or PET measurements.
Visual ratings and automated analyses of the PET image revealed a heavy fibrillar Aβ burden in cortical, striatal, and thalamic regions, similar to that reported for patients with late-onset Alzheimer disease. This matched neuropathologic findings of frequent neuritic and diffuse plaques, as well as frequent amyloid angiopathy, except for neuropathologically demonstrated frequent cerebellar diffuse plaques and amyloid angiopathy that were not detected by the PET scan.
Florbetapir PET can be used to detect increased cerebral-to-cerebellar fibrillar Aβ burden in a Down syndrome patient with Alzheimer disease, even in the presence of frequent amyloid angiopathy and diffuse plaques in the cerebellum. Additional studies are needed to determine the extent to which PET could be used to detect and to track fibrillar Aβ and to evaluate investigational Aβ-modifying treatments in the presymptomatic and symptomatic stages of Alzheimer disease.
Recently, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Alzheimer’s Association (AA), identified specific structural and functional neuroimaging findings as valuable markers of biological processes occurring in the human brain -- especially, processes that herald impending dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), in its prodromal form. In particular, the imaging modalities of MRI and PET were singled out, along with certain biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), to serve this purpose. We review the clinical tests available for neuropsychologic evaluation and in cases when the differential diagnosis for the causes of cognitive impairment is difficult to make, we consider biomarkers, beginning with CSF, for assessment of cognitive decline. For more direct information about dementia-related pathologic changes in brain tissue, structural features observed in MRI scans are regarded. We next discuss the use of SPECT for evaluating functional changes. Then, pertinent to the recent NIA/AA consensus statement on the diagnosis of prodromal AD, we focus upon assessing the cerebral metabolic changes associated with neurodegenerative diseases that are identified with FDG-PET, as well as consider the most appropriate roles for amyloid imaging based upon recent studies examining the use of PET with tracers having higher retention in brain tissue harboring plaques comprised of insoluble beta-amyloid. We also consider leading causes for the current underutilization of neuronuclear imaging in evaluating patients with cognitive problems, along with strategies for combating them. Finally, we suggest an overall diagnostic algorithm to guide optimal use of all the neuroimaging tools in assessing patients with cognitive decline.
Alzheimer’s Disease; dementia; diagnosis; fluorodeoxyglucose; PET; amyloid; prognosis
Drug candidates directed against amyloid-β (Aβ) are mainstream in Alzheimer's disease (AD) drug development. Active and passive Aβ immunotherapy is the principle that has come furthest, both in number and in stage of clinical trials. However, an increasing number of reports on major difficulties in identifying any clinical benefit in phase II–III clinical trials on this type of anti-Aβ drug candidates have caused concern among researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and other stakeholders. This has provided critics of the amyloid cascade hypothesis with fire for their arguments that Aβ deposition may merely be a bystander, and not the cause, of the disease or that the amyloid hypothesis may only be valid for the familial form of AD. On the other hand, most researchers argue that it is the trial design that will need refinement to allow for identifying a positive clinical effect of anti-Aβ drugs. A consensus in the field is that future trials need to be performed in an earlier stage of the disease and that biomarkers are essential to guide and facilitate drug development. In this context, it is reassuring that, in contrast to most brain disorders, research advances in the AD field have led to both imaging (magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and PET) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers for the central pathogenic processes of the disease. AD biomarkers will have a central role in future clinical trials to enable early diagnosis, and Aβ biomarkers (CSF Aβ42 and amyloid PET) may be essential to allow for testing a drug on patients with evidence of brain Aβ pathology. Pharmacodynamic Aβ and amyloid precursor protein biomarkers will be of use to verify target engagement of a drug candidate in humans, thereby bridging the gap between mechanistic data from transgenic AD models (that may not be relevant to the neuropathology of human AD) and large and expensive phase III trials. Last, downstream biomarker evidence (CSF tau proteins and MRI volumetry) that the drug ameliorates neurodegeneration will, together with beneficial clinical effects on cognition and functioning, be essential for labeling an anti-Aβ drug as disease modifying.
Alzheimer's Disease; biomarker; cerebrospinal fluid; Cognition; mild cognitive impairment (MCI); Neurodegeneration; Neuroprotection; Neurology; phosphorylated tau; tau protein; Alzheimer's disease; biomarker; amyloid-β (Aβ); cerebrospinal fluid; clinical trial; theragnostic
The development of prevention therapies for Alzheimer's disease (AD) would greatly benefit from biomarkers that are sensitive to the subtle brain changes that occur in the preclinical stage of the disease. Reductions in the cerebral metabolic rate of glucose (CMRglc), a measure of neuronal function, have proven to be a promising tool in the early diagnosis of AD. In vivo brain 2-[18F]fluoro-2-Deoxy-D-glucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) imaging demonstrates consistent and progressive CMRglc reductions in AD patients, the extent and topography of which correlate with symptom severity. There is increasing evidence that hypometabolism appears during the preclinical stages of AD and can predict decline years before the onset of symptoms. This review will give an overview of FDG-PET results in individuals at risk for developing dementia, including: presymptomatic individuals carrying mutations responsible for early-onset familial AD; patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), often a prodrome to late-onset sporadic AD; non-demented carriers of the Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) ε4 allele, a strong genetic risk factor for late-onset AD; cognitively normal subjects with a family history of AD; subjects with subjective memory complaints; and normal elderly followed longitudinally until they expressed the clinical symptoms and received post-mortem confirmation of AD. Finally, we will discuss the potential to combine different PET tracers and CSF markers of pathology to improve the early detection of AD.
Alzheimer disease; PET; CSF markers
The relationships between clinical phenotype, β-amyloid (Aβ) deposition and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease (AD) are incompletely understood yet have important ramifications for future therapy. The goal of this study was to utilize multimodality positron emission tomography (PET) data from a clinically heterogeneous population of patients with probable AD in order to: (1) identify spatial patterns of Aβ deposition measured by (11C)-labeled Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB-PET) and glucose metabolism measured by FDG-PET that correlate with specific clinical presentation and (2) explore associations between spatial patterns of Aβ deposition and glucose metabolism across the AD population. We included all patients meeting the criteria for probable AD (NIA–AA) who had undergone MRI, PiB and FDG-PET at our center (N = 46, mean age 63.0 ± 7.7, Mini-Mental State Examination 22.0 ± 4.8). Patients were subclassified based on their cognitive profiles into an amnestic/dysexecutive group (AD-memory; n = 27), a language-predominant group (AD-language; n = 10) and a visuospatial-predominant group (AD-visuospatial; n = 9). All patients were required to have evidence of amyloid deposition on PiB-PET. To capture the spatial distribution of Aβ deposition and glucose metabolism, we employed parallel independent component analysis (pICA), a method that enables joint analyses of multimodal imaging data. The relationships between PET components and clinical group were examined using a Receiver Operator Characteristic approach, including age, gender, education and apolipoprotein E ε4 allele carrier status as covariates. Results of the first set of analyses independently examining the relationship between components from each modality and clinical group showed three significant components for FDG: a left inferior frontal and temporoparietal component associated with AD-language (area under the curve [AUC] 0.82, p = 0.011), and two components associated with AD-visuospatial (bilateral occipito-parieto-temporal [AUC 0.85, p = 0.009] and right posterior cingulate cortex [PCC]/precuneus and right lateral parietal [AUC 0.69, p = 0.045]). The AD-memory associated component included predominantly bilateral inferior frontal, cuneus and inferior temporal, and right inferior parietal hypometabolism but did not reach significance (AUC 0.65, p = 0.062). None of the PiB components correlated with clinical group. Joint analysis of PiB and FDG with pICA revealed a correlated component pair, in which increased frontal and decreased PCC/precuneus PiB correlated with decreased FDG in the frontal, occipital and temporal regions (partial r = 0.75, p < 0.0001). Using multivariate data analysis, this study reinforced the notion that clinical phenotype in AD is tightly linked to patterns of glucose hypometabolism but not amyloid deposition. These findings are strikingly similar to those of univariate paradigms and provide additional support in favor of specific involvement of the language network, higher-order visual network, and default mode network in clinical variants of AD. The inverse relationship between Aβ deposition and glucose metabolism in partially overlapping brain regions suggests that Aβ may exert both local and remote effects on brain metabolism. Applying multivariate approaches such as pICA to multimodal imaging data is a promising approach for unraveling the complex relationships between different elements of AD pathophysiology.
•Multivariate approaches may be best suited to study links between biomarkers.•This is the first effort to apply pICA to FDG and PiB data in three groups with AD.•Hypometabolism was focal but amyloid binding was similar across conditions.•Results provide support for involvement of functional networks in variants of AD.•Aβ may exert both local and remote effects on brain metabolism.
Multivariate data analysis; Parallel ICA; Alzheimer's disease; Amyloid imaging; PiB-PET; FDG-PET; Functional connectivity; Networks; AD or AD-memory, Alzheimer's disease; AUC, area under the curve; AD-language or LPA, logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia; PCA or AD-visuospatial, posterior cortical atrophy; PCC, posterior cingulate cortex; PPC, posterior parietal cortex
Sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an emerging chronic illness characterized by a progressive pleiotropic pathophysiological mode of actions triggered during the senescence process and affecting the elderly worldwide. The complex molecular mechanisms of AD not only are supported by cholinergic, beta-amyloid, and tau theories but also have a genetic basis that accounts for the difference in symptomatology processes activation among human population which will evolve into divergent neuropathological features underlying cognitive and behaviour alterations. Distinct immune system tolerance could also influence divergent responses among AD patients treated by immunotherapy. The complexity in nature increases when taken together the genetic/immune tolerance with the patient's brain reserve and with neuropathological evolution from early till advance AD clinical stages. The most promising diagnostic strategies in today's world would consist in performing high diagnostic accuracy of combined modality imaging technologies using beta-amyloid 42 peptide-cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) positron emission tomography (PET), Pittsburgh compound B-PET, fluorodeoxyglucose-PET, total and phosphorylated tau-CSF, and volumetric magnetic resonance imaging hippocampus biomarkers for criteria evaluation and validation. Early diagnosis is the challenge task that needs to look first at plausible mechanisms of actions behind therapies, and combining them would allow for the development of efficient AD treatment in a near future.
PET imaging using [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) and [11C]Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) have been proposed as biomarkers of Alzheimer disease (AD), as have CSF measures of the 42 amino acid β-amyloid protein (Aβ1-42) and total and phosphorylated tau (t-tau and p-tau). Relationships between biomarkers and with disease severity are incompletely understood.
Ten subjects with AD, 11 control subjects, and 34 subjects with mild cognitive impairment from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative underwent clinical evaluation; CSF measurement of Aβ1-42, t-tau, and p-tau; and PIB-PET and FDG-PET scanning. Data were analyzed using continuous regression and dichotomous outcomes with subjects classified as “positive” or “negative” for AD based on cutoffs established in patients with AD and controls from other cohorts.
Dichotomous categorization showed substantial agreement between PIB-PET and CSF Aβ1-42 measures (91% agreement, κ = 0.74), modest agreement between PIB-PET and p-tau (76% agreement, κ = 0.50), and minimal agreement for other comparisons (κ <0.3). Mini-Mental State Examination score was significantly correlated with FDG-PET but not with PIB-PET or CSF Aβ1-42. Regression models adjusted for diagnosis showed that PIB-PET was significantly correlated with Aβ1-42, t-tau, and p-tau181p, whereas FDG-PET was correlated only with Aβ1-42.
PET and CSF biomarkers of Aβ agree with one another but are not related to cognitive impairment. [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose-PET is modestly related to other biomarkers but is better related to cognition. Different biomarkers for Alzheimer disease provide different information from one another that is likely to be complementary.
β1-42 = 42 amino acid β-amyloid protein;
= Alzheimer disease;
= Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative;
= Clinical Dementia Rating;
= confidence interval;
= 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.
Alterations in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau and β–amyloid peptide 1–42 (Aβ42) levels and rates of cerebral glucose (CMRglu) on fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) occur years before clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) become manifest, but their relationship remains unclear.
To determine whether CSF AD biomarker levels and CMRglu in healthy individuals correlate in brain structures affected early in AD.
Alzheimer’s disease research center.
Twenty individuals without dementia, aged 46 to 83 years.
Lumbar CSF sampling and FDG-PET imaging of CMRglu. The CSF Aβ42, tau, and tau phosphorylated at threonine 181 (p–tau181) levels were measured using immunobead–based multiplex assays.
Main Outcome Measures
Correlations between CMRglu and CSF biomarker levels were analyzed via voxel–based and volume–of–interest approaches.
Voxel–based analyses demonstrated significant negative correlations between CSF tau and p–tau181 levels and CMRglu in the posterior cingulate, precuneus, and parahippocampal regions. In contrast, a limited positive correlation was found between CSF Aβ42 levels and CMRglu in the inferior temporal cortex. Volume–of–interest analyses confirmed negative associations between CSF tau and p–tau181 levels and CMRglu in the parietal and medial parietal lobes and a positive association between CSF Aβ42 levels and CMRglu in the parahippocampal gyrus.
In healthy individuals, higher CSF tau and p–tau181 concentrations were associated with more severe hypometabolism in several brain regions affected very early in AD, whereas lower CSF Aβ42 concentrations were associated with hypometabolism only in the medial temporal lobe. This suggests that early tau and Aβ abnormalities may be associated with subtle synaptic changes in brain regions vulnerable to AD. A longitudinal assessment of CSF and FDG–PET biomarkers is needed to determine whether these changes predict cognitive impairment and incipient AD.
PET imaging agents such as Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) allow detection of fibrillar β-amyloid (Aβ) in vivo. In addition to quantification of Aβ deposition in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, PiB has also increased our understanding of Aβ deposition in older adults without cognitive impairment. in vivo Aβ deposition has been studied in relation to genotype, structural and functional brain changes, as well as alterations in biomarker levels. To date, several studies have reported changes in Aβ burden over time. This, together with investigation of the relationship between Aβ deposition and cognition, sets the stage for elucidation of the temporal sequence of the neurobiological events leading to cognitive decline. Furthermore, correlation of Aβ levels detected by PiB PET and those obtained from biopsy or postmortem specimens will allow more rigorous quantitative interpretation of PiB PET data in relation to neuropathological evaluation. Since the first human study in 2004, in vivo amyloid imaging has led to advances in our understanding of the role of Aβ deposition in human aging and cognitive decline, as well as provided new tools for patient selection and therapeutic monitoring in clinical trials.
PiB; amyloid; aging; MCI; AD; cognition; MRI; FDG; pathology; human; brain
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
To determine the temporal relationships of clinical, cognitive, Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB) amyloid imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) markers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
A case report of a longitudinally assessed participant in a memory and aging study who had serial clinical and psychometric assessments over 6 years, in addition to PiB imaging and CSF biomarker assays, prior to coming to autopsy.
Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
An 85-year old individual was cognitively normal at his initial and next 3 annual assessments. Decline in measures of episodic memory and, to a lesser degree, working memory began at about age 88 years. PiB-PET amyloid imaging was negative at age 88.5 years, but at age 89.5 years there was reduced amyloid-beta 42 (Aβ42) and elevated levels of tau in the CSF. At his 6th assessment, when he was 90 years old, he was diagnosed with very mild dementia of the Alzheimer type. After death at age 91 years, the autopsy revealed foci of frequent neocortical diffuse Aβ plaques, sufficient to fulfill Khachaturian neuropathologic criteria for AD, but neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles were sparse. Postmortem biochemical analysis of the cerebral tissue confirmed that PiB-PET-binding was below the level needed for in vivo detection.
Clinical, cognitive, and CSF markers consistent with AD may precede detection of cerebral Aβ with amyloid imaging agents such as PiB, which primarily label fibrillar Aβ plaques.
Research progress has provided detailed understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease (AD). This knowledge has been translated into new drug candidates with putative disease-modifying effects, which are now being tested in clinical trials. The promise of effective therapy has created a great need for biomarkers able to detect AD in the predementia phase, because drugs will probably be effective only if neurodegeneration is not too advanced. In this chapter, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma biomarkers are reviewed. The core CSF biomarkers total tau (T-tau), phosphorylated tau (P-tau) and the 42 amino acid form of β-amyloid (Aβ42) reflect AD pathology, and have high diagnostic accuracy to diagnose AD with dementia and prodromal AD in mild cognitive impairment cases. The rationale for the use of CSF biomarkers to identify and monitor the mechanism of action of new drug candidates is also outlined in this chapter.
To effectively treat Alzheimer disease, biomarkers to diagnose the disease in the predementia phase are needed. Biomarkers from cerebrospinal fluid and plasma (e.g., tau and amyloid-β) show excellent diagnostic performance.
The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) beginning in October 2004, is a 6-year re-search project that studies changes of cognition, function, brain structure and function, and biomarkers in elderly controls, subjects with mild cognitive impairment, and subjects with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A major goal is to determine and validate MRI, PET images, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)/blood biomarkers as predictors and outcomes for use in clinical trials of AD treatments. Structural MRI, FDG PET, C-11 Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) PET, CSF measurements of amyloid β (Aβ) and species of tau, with clinical/cognitive measurements were performed on elderly controls, subjects with mild cognitive impairment, and subjects with AD. Structural MRI shows high rates of brain atrophy, and has high statistical power for determining treatment effects. FDG PET, C-11 Pittsburgh compound B PET, and CSF measurements of Aβ and tau were significant predictors of cognitive decline and brain atrophy. All data are available at UCLA/LONI/ADNI, without embargo. ADNI-like projects started in Australia, Europe, Japan, and Korea. ADNI provides significant new information concerning the progression of AD.
ADNI; Alzheimer’s disease; MRI; PET; Amyloid; Memory; Tau
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