Using data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) population, we examined (1) cross-sectional relationships between amyloid deposition, hypometabolism, and cognition, and (2) associations between amyloid and hypometabolism measurements and longitudinal cognitive measurements.
We examined associations between mean cortical florbetapir uptake, mean 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose–positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) within a set of predefined regions, and Alzhiemer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog) performance in 426 ADNI participants (126 normal, 162 early mild cognitive impairment [EMCI], 85 late MCI [LMCI], 53 Alzheimer disease [AD] patients). For a subset of these (76 normal, 81 LMCI) we determined whether florbetapir and FDG-PET were associated with retrospective decline in longitudinal ADAS-cog measurements.
Twenty-nine percent of normal subjects, 43% of EMCI patients, 62% of LMCI patients, and 77% of AD patients were categorized as florbetapir positive. Florbetapir was negatively associated with concurrent FDG and ADAS-cog in both MCI groups. In longitudinal analyses, florbetapir-positive subjects in both normal and LMCI groups had greater ongoing ADAS-cog decline than those who were florbetapir negative. However, in normal subjects, florbetapir positivity was associated with greater ADAS-cog decline than FDG, whereas in LMCI, FDG positivity was associated with greater decline than florbetapir.
Although both hypometabolism and β-amyloid (Aβ) deposition are detectable in normal subjects and all diagnostic groups, Aβ showed greater associations with cognitive decline in normal participants. In view of the minimal cognitive deterioration overall in this group, this suggests that amyloid deposition has an early and subclinical impact on cognition that precedes metabolic changes. At moderate and later stages of disease (LMCI/AD), hypometabolism becomes more pronounced and more closely linked to ongoing cognitive decline.
Beta amyloid (Aβ)-plaque deposition and neurodegeneration within temporoparietal and hippocampal regions may indicate increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This study examined relationships between AD biomarkers of Aβ and neurodegeneration as well as cognitive performance in cognitively normal older individuals. Aβ burden was quantified in 72 normal older human subjects from the Berkeley Aging Cohort (BAC) using [11C] Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) PET. In the same individuals, we measured hippocampal volume, as well as glucose metabolism and cortical thickness, which were extracted from a template of cortical AD-affected regions. The three functional and structural biomarkers were merged into a highly AD-sensitive multi-modality biomarker reflecting neural integrity. In the normal older individuals, there was no association between Aβ burden and either the single-modality or the multi-modality neurodegenerative biomarkers. While lower neural integrity within the AD-affected regions and a control area (the visual cortex) was related to lower scores on memory and executive function tests, the same association was not found with PIB retention. The relationship between cognition and the multi-modality AD biomarker was stronger in individuals with the highest PIB uptake. The findings indicate that neurodegeneration occurs within AD regions irrespective of Aβ deposition and accounts for worse cognition in cognitively normal older people. The impact of neural integrity on cognitive functions is enhanced in the presence of high Aβ burden for regions that are vulnerable to AD pathology.
Changes in memory function in elderly individuals are often attributed to dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). One mechanism for this dysfunction may be disruption of white matter tracts that connect the PFC with its anatomical targets. Here, we tested the hypothesis that white matter degeneration is associated with reduced prefrontal activation. We used white matter hyperintensities (WMH), a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) finding associated with cerebrovascular disease in elderly individuals, as a marker for white matter degeneration. Specifically, we used structural MRI to quantify the extent of WMH in a group of cognitively normal elderly individuals and tested whether these measures were predictive of the magnitude of prefrontal activity (fMRI) observed during performance of an episodic retrieval task and a verbal working memory task.
We also examined the effects of WMH located in the dorsolateral frontal regions with the hypothesis that dorsal PFC WMH would be strongly associated with not only PFC function, but also with areas that are anatomically and functionally linked to the PFC in a task-dependent manner. Results showed that increases in both global and regional dorsal PFC WMH volume were associated with decreases in PFC activity. In addition, dorsal PFC WMH volume was associated with decreased activity in medial temporal and anterior cingulate regions during episodic retrieval and decreased activity in the posterior parietal and anterior cingulate cortex during working memory performance. These results suggest that disruption of white matter tracts, especially within the PFC, may be a mechanism for age-related changes in memory functioning.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), defined as episodic memory impairment beyond what is expected in normal aging, is often associated with hippocampal atrophy (HA) and may represent incipient Alzheimer’s disease. However, recent studies suggest that MCI is very heterogeneous and multiple etiologies likely exist. One possibility is small vessel cerebrovascular disease (CVD). Specifically, we hypothesized that white matter hyperintensities(WMH),an MRI marker for CVD, would lead to impairments in executive control processes critical for working memory that may, in turn, result in episodic memory impairment. To test this hypothesis, we examined a group of subjects clinically diagnosed with MCI and used MRI to further subcategorize individuals as either MCI with severe white matter hyperintensities (MCI-WMH) or MCI with severe hippocampal atrophy (MCI-HA). MCI-WMH, MCI-HA, and matched control subjects each performed a battery of working memory and episodic memory tasks. Results showed that MCI-HA and MCI-WMH were equally impaired on the episodic memory task relative to controls, but MCI-WMH were additionally impaired on tests tapping verbal and spatial working memory abilities and attentional control processes. These results suggest that CVD and hippocampal dysfunction are associated with distinct neuropsychological profiles. Although both syndromes are associated with episodic memory deficits, CVD is additionally associated with working memory and executive control deficits. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Aging; Dementia; White matter hyperintensities; Working memory; Cerebrovascular disease; Hippocampus
This study investigated the hypothesis that vascular risk factors are amyloidogenic. Participants were 43 persons, most with normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment. Vascular risk was quantified using the Framingham Coronary Risk Profile score (FCRP). Cerebral amyloid was measured by 11C-PIB PET and quantified with a Global PIB index, which is the average of distribution volume ratios in selected cortical regions of interest. In a bivariate model FCRP accounted for 16% of the variance in PIB index (p < .008) and the positive association remained significant controlling for age and sex. The effect of FCRP was independent of APOE genotype, which was also associated as expected with PIB. Carotid intima-media thickness was not associated with PIB index. Effects of individual FCRP component risk factors, cholesterol and glycemic status on PIB index were all non-significant, suggesting an aggregate effect of risk factors. Although this is a correlational observation it may represent a causal relationship as there are multiple, plausible, amyloidogenic mechanisms of vascular risk factors.
vascular risk factors; coronary risk factors; cerebral amyloid; Mild Cognitive Impairment; Normal Aging; Alzheimer’s disease
Beta-amyloid (Aβ) is a histopathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease dementia, but high levels of Aβ in the brain can also be found in a substantial proportion of nondemented subjects. Here we investigated which 2-year rate of brain and cognitive changes are present in nondemented subjects with high and low Aβ levels, as assessed with cerebrospinal fluid and molecular positron emission tomography (PET)–based biomarkers of Aβ. In subjects with mild cognitive impairment, increased brain Aβ levels were associated with significantly faster cognitive decline, progression of gray matter atrophy within temporal and parietal brain regions, and a trend for a faster decline in parietal Fludeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET metabolism. Changes in gray matter and FDG-PET mediated the association between Aβ and cognitive decline. In contrast, elderly cognitively healthy controls (HC) with high Aβ levels showed only a faster medial temporal lobe and precuneus volume decline compared with HC with low Aβ. In conclusion, the current results suggest not only that both functional and volumetric brain changes are associated with high Aβ years before the onset of dementia but also that HC with substantial Aβ levels show higher Aβ pathology resistance, lack other pathologies that condition neurotoxic effects of Aβ, or accumulated Aβ for a shorter time period.
Aβ; FDG-PET; MCI; PIB-PET
11C-Pittsburgh compound B (11C-PiB) and 18F-florbetapir amyloid-β (Aβ) PET radioligands have had a substantial impact on Alzheimer disease research. Although there is evidence that both radioligands bind to fibrillar Aβ in the brain, direct comparisons in the same individuals have not been reported. Here, we evaluated PiB and florbetapir in a retrospective convenience sample of cognitively normal older controls, patients with mild cognitive impairment, and patients with Alzheimer disease from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI).
From the ADNI database, 32 participants were identified who had undergone at least 1 PiB study and subsequently underwent a florbetapir study approximately 1.5 y after the last PiB study. Cortical PiB and florbetapir retention was quantified using several different methods to determine the effect of preprocessing factors (such as smoothing and reference region selection) and image processing pipelines.
There was a strong association between PiB and florbetapir cortical retention ratios (Spearman ρ = 0.86–0.95), and these were slightly lower than cortical retention ratios for consecutive PiB scans (Spearman ρ = 0.96–0.98) made approximately 1.1 y apart. Cortical retention ratios for Aβ-positive subjects tended to be higher for PiB than for florbetapir images, yielding slopes for linear regression of florbetapir against PiB of 0.59–0.64. Associations between consecutive PiB scans and between PiB and florbetapir scans remained strong, regardless of processing methods such as smoothing, spatial normalization to a PET template, and use of reference regions. The PiB–florbetapir association was used to interconvert cutoffs for Aβ positivity and negativity between the 2 radioligands, and these cutoffs were highly consistent in their assignment of Aβ status.
PiB and florbetapir retention ratios were strongly associated in the same individuals, and this relationship was consistent across several data analysis methods, despite scan–rescan intervals of more than a year. Cutoff thresholds for determining positive or negative Aβ status can be reliably transformed from PiB to florbetapir units or vice versa using a population scanned with both radioligands.
amyloid-β; Alzheimer’s disease; PET imaging
To assess the association between lifestyle practices (cognitive and physical activity) and β-amyloid deposition, measured with positron emission tomography using carbon 11–labeled Pittsburgh Compound B ([11C]PiB), in healthy older individuals.
Cross-sectional clinical study.
Volunteer sample of 65 healthy older individuals (mean age, 76.1 years), 10 patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) (mean age, 74.8 years), and 11 young controls (mean age, 24.5 years) were studied from October 31, 2005, to February 22, 2011.
Main Outcome Measures
Cortical [11C]PiB average (frontal, parietal, lateral temporal, and cingulate regions) and retrospective, self-report scales assessing participation in cognitive activities (eg, reading, writing, and playing games) and physical exercise.
Greater participation in cognitively stimulating activities across the lifespan, but particularly in early and middle life, was associated with reduced [11C]PiB uptake (P <.001, accounting for age, sex, and years of education). Older participants in the highest cognitive activity tertile had [11C]PiB uptake comparable to young controls, whereas those in the lowest cognitive activity tertile had [11C]PiB uptake comparable to patients with AD. Although greater cognitive activity was associated with greater physical exercise, exercise was not associated with [11C]PiB uptake.
Individuals with greater early- and middle-life cognitive activity had lower [11C]PiB uptake. The tendency to participate in cognitively stimulating activities is likely related to engagement in a variety of lifestyle practices that have been implicated in other studies showing reduced risk of AD-related pathology. We report a direct association between cognitive activity and [11C]PiB uptake, suggesting that lifestyle factors found in individuals with high cognitive engagement may prevent or slow deposition of β-amyloid, perhaps influencing the onset and progression of AD.
To investigate early effects of beta-amyloid (Aβ) on neuronal function, elderly normal controls (NCs, age range 58–97) were scanned with Pittsburgh Compound-B (PIB) positron emission tomography (a measure of Aβ) as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging (a measure of brain activation) while performing an episodic memory–encoding task of natural scenes (also performed by young NCs; age range 18–30). Relationships between Aβ and activation were assessed across task-positive (regions that activate for subsequently remembered vs. forgotten scenes) and task-negative regions (regions that deactivate for subsequently remembered vs. forgotten scenes). Significant task-related activation was present in a distributed network spanning ventrolateral prefrontal, lateral occipital, lateral parietal, posterior inferior temporal cortices, and the right parahippocampal/hippocampus, whereas deactivation was present in many default mode network regions (posteromedial, medial prefrontal, and lateral temporoparietal cortices). Task-positive activation was higher in PIB+ compared with PIB− subjects, and this activation was positively correlated with memory measures in PIB+ subjects. Although task deactivation was not impaired in PIB+ NCs, deactivation was reduced in old versus young subjects and was correlated with worse task memory performance among old subjects. Overall, these results suggest that heightened activation during episodic memory encoding is present in NC elderly subjects with high Aβ.
aging; Alzheimer’s disease; beta-amyloid; episodic memory; fMRI; PIB-PET
The ε4 allele of the polymorphic apolipoprotein E gene is associated with increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD), deposition of β-amyloid (Aβ), and reduction in cerebral glucose metabolism in asymptomatic people. Although ApoE4 may exert an effect on AD risk through amyloidogenic pathways, whether its effect on glucose metabolism is related to Aβ is unknown. To answer this question, we examined data from 175 cognitively normal older people (mean age 77, 87 men, 88 women) in the Alzheimer's disease neuroimaging initiative studied concurrently with [18F]Flurodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET measures of glucose metabolism and the radiotracer [18F]florbetapir, an imaging agent which labels fibrillar Aβ in vivo. Based on a threshold value of florbetapir uptake determined in separate samples, subjects were categorized as florbetapir+ or florbetapir-. Glucose metabolism was measured as a continuous variable in a group of regions of interest (ROIs) selected a priori based on their involvement in AD, and also using a whole-brain voxelwise approach. Amongst this sample, 29% of subjects were florbetapir+, and 23% were ApoE4 carriers. As expected, there was a significant association between ApoE4 genotype and florbetapir positivity. Florbetapir status, however, was not significantly associated with glucose metabolism, but the ApoE4 genotype was associated with lower metabolism in both voxelwise and ROI approaches. These results show that ApoE genotype, and not aggregated fibrillar forms of Aβ, contributes to reduced glucose metabolism in aging and add to a growing list of neural consequences of ApoE that do not appear to be related to Aβ.
Over the last 20 years, there has been extraordinary progress in brain imaging research and its application to the study of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Brain imaging researchers have contributed to the scientific understanding, early detection and tracking of AD. They have set the stage for imaging techniques to play growing roles in the clinical setting, the evaluation of disease-modifying treatments, and the identification of demonstrably effective prevention therapies. They have developed ground-breaking methods, including positron emission tomography (PET) ligands to measure fibrillar amyloid-β (Aβ) deposition, new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) pulse sequences, and powerful image analysis techniques, to help in these endeavors. Additional work is needed to develop even more powerful imaging methods, to further clarify the relationship and time course of Aβ and other disease processes in the predisposition to AD, to establish the role of brain imaging methods in the clinical setting, and to provide the scientific means and regulatory approval pathway needed to evaluate the range of promising disease-modifying and prevention therapies as quickly as possible. Twenty years from now, AD may not yet be a distant memory, but the best is yet to come.
Alzheimer's disease; dementia; mild cognitive impairment; MRI; PET; amyloid; diagnosis; prevention
The present study evaluated cerebrovascular disease (CVD), β-amyloid (Aβ), and cognition in clinically normal elderly adults. Fifty-four participants underwent MRI, PIB-PET imaging, and neuropsychological evaluation. High white matter hyperintensity burden and/or presence of infarct defined CVD status (CVD−: N = 27; CVD+: N = 27). PIB-PET ratios of Aβ deposition were extracted using Logan plotting (cerebellar reference). Presence of high levels of Aβ in prespecified regions determined PIB status (PIB−: N = 33; PIB+: N = 21). Executive functioning and episodic memory were measured using composite scales. CVD and Aβ, defined as dichotomous or continuous variables, were unrelated to one another. CVD+ participants showed lower executive functioning (P = 0.001) when compared to CVD− individuals. Neither PIB status nor amount of Aβ affected cognition (Ps ≥ .45), and there was no statistical interaction between CVD and PIB on either cognitive measure. Within this spectrum of normal aging CVD and Aβ aggregation appear to be independent processes with CVD primarily affecting cognition.
PIB; cerebrovascular disease; episodic memory; executive functioning; cognition
Recent studies have linked dopamine to differences in behavior and brain activity in normal individuals. We explored these relationships in older and younger adults by investigating how functional connectivity between the striatum and prefrontal cortex is related to caudate dopamine and verbal working memory task performance. We studied 12 young and 18 older participants with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during this task, and used positron emission tomography with the tracer 6-[18F]-fluoro-L-m-tyrosine (FMT) to assess dopamine synthesis capacity. Younger adults had a greater extent of frontal-caudate functional connectivity during the load-dependent delay period of the working memory task than the older participants. Across all subjects, the extent of this functional connectivity was negatively correlated with dopamine synthesis capacity, such that participants with the greatest connectivity had the lowest caudate FMT signal. Additionally, the extent of functional connectivity was positively correlated with working memory performance. Overall these data suggest interdependencies exist between fronto-striatal functional connectivity, dopamine, and working memory performance and that this system is functioning suboptimally in normal aging.
aging; working memory; dopamine; functional connectivity; FMT
We investigated relationships between glucose metabolism, amyloid load and measures of cognitive and functional impairment in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Patients meeting criteria for probable AD underwent [11C]PIB and [18F]FDG PET imaging and were assessed on a set of clinical measures. PIB Distribution volume ratios and FDG scans were spatially normalized and average PIB counts from regions-of-interest (ROI) were used to compute a measure of global PIB uptake. Separate voxel-wise regressions explored local and global relationships between metabolism, amyloid burden and clinical measures. Regressions reflected cognitive domains assessed by individual measures, with visuospatial tests associated with more posterior metabolism, and language tests associated with metabolism in the left hemisphere. Correlating regional FDG uptake with these measures confirmed these findings. In contrast, no correlations were found between either voxel-wise or regional PIB uptake and any of the clinical measures. Finally, there were no associations between regional PIB and FDG uptake. We conclude that regional and global amyloid burden does not correlate with clinical status or glucose metabolism in AD.
amyloid plaques; amyloidosis; Alzheimer’s disease; glucose metabolism; Pittsburgh compound-B; Fluorodeoxyglucose; dementia severity; cognition
Researchers employing Pittsburgh Compound B positron emission tomography (PIB-PET) imaging have consistently indentified old normal control (oNC) subjects with elevated tracer uptake, suggesting the presence of beta-amyloid deposition in these individuals. However, a consensus regarding the level at which PIB reveals a biologically meaningful signal does not exist (ie. an appropriate cutoff value for PIB positivity remains unclear). In this exploratory study, we sought to investigate the range of PIB distribution volume ratio (DVR) values present in our oNC cohort (N=75, age range=58-97). oNC subjects were classified based on global PIB index values (average DVR across prefrontal, parietal, lateral temporal and cingulate cortices) by employing two approaches: (1) an iterative outlier approach that revealed a cutoff value of 1.16 (IO-cutoff) and (2) an approach using data from a sample of young normal control subjects (N=11, age range=20-30) that yielded a cutoff value of 1.08 (yNC-cutoff). oNC subjects falling above the IO-cutoff had values similar to AD subjects (“PIB+”, 15%). Subjects falling between the 2 cutoffs were considered to have ambiguous PIB status (“Ambig”, 20%) and the remaining oNC were considered “PIB-“ (65%). Additional measures capturing focal DVR magnitude and extent of elevated DVR values were consistent with the classification scheme using PIB index values, and revealed evidence for elevated DVR values in a subset of PIB- oNC subjects. Furthermore, there were a greater proportion of ambiguously elevated values compared to low values, and these elevated values were present in regions known to show amyloid deposition. The analyses presented in this study, in conjunction with recently published pathological data, suggest a biological relevance of slight PIB elevations in aging.
PIB-PET imaging; aging; Alzheimer's disease (AD); beta-amyloid; PIB-positivity; preclinical AD
Attentional processing has been associated with the dorsal attention, default mode, and fronto-parietal control networks. The dorsal attention network is involved in externally focused attention whereas the default mode network is involved in internally directed attention. The fronto-parietal control network has been proposed to mediate the transition between external and internal attention by coupling its activity to either the dorsal attention network or the default mode network depending on the attentional demand. Dopamine is hypothesized to modulate attention and has been linked to the integrity of these three attention-related networks. We used positron emission tomography (PET) with 6-[18F]fluoro-L-m-tyrosine to quantify dopamine synthesis capacity in vivo and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to acquire stimulus-independent brain activity in cognitively healthy human subjects. We found that in the resting state where internal cognition dominates, dopamine enhances the coupling between the fronto-parietal control network and the default mode network while reducing the coupling between the fronto-parietal control network and the dorsal attention network. These results add a neurochemical perspective to the role of network interaction in modulating attention.
The development of Aβ-PET imaging agents has allowed for detection of fibrillar Aβ deposition in vivo and marks a major advancement in understanding the role of Aβ in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Imaging Aβ thus has many potential clinical benefits: early or perhaps preclinical detection of disease and accurately distinguishing AD from dementias of other non-Aβ causes in patients presenting with mild or atypical symptoms or confounding comorbidities (in which the distinction is difficult to make clinically). From a research perspective, imaging Aβ allows us to study relationships between amyloid pathology and changes in cognition, brain structure, and function across the continuum from normal aging to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to AD; and to monitor the effectiveness of anti-Aβ drugs and relate them to neurodegeneration and clinical symptoms. Here, we will discuss the application of one of the most broadly studied and widely used Aβ imaging agents, Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB).
Objective: Our goal was to evaluate the association of APOE with amyloid deposition, cerebrospinal fluid levels (CSF) of Aβ, tau, and p-tau, brain atrophy, cognition and cognitive complaints in E-MCI patients and cognitively healthy older adults (HC) in the ADNI-2 cohort.
Methods: Two-hundred and nine E-MCI and 123 HC participants from the ADNI-2 cohort were included. We evaluated the impact of diagnostic status (E-MCI vs. HC) and APOE ε4 status (ε4 positive vs. ε4 negative) on cortical amyloid deposition (AV-45/Florbetapir SUVR PET scans), brain atrophy (structural MRI scans processed using voxel-based morphometry and Freesurfer version 5.1), CSF levels of Aβ, tau, and p-tau, and cognitive performance and complaints.
Results: E-MCI participants showed significantly impaired cognition, higher levels of cognitive complaints, greater levels of tau and p-tau, and subcortical and cortical atrophy relative to HC participants (p < 0.05). Cortical amyloid deposition and CSF levels of Aβ were significantly associated with APOE ε4 status but not E-MCI diagnosis, with ε4 positive participants showing more amyloid deposition and lower levels of CSF Aβ than ε4 negative participants. Other effects of APOE ε4 status on cognition and CSF tau levels were also observed.
APOE ε4 status is associated with amyloid accumulation and lower CSF Aβ, as well as increased CSF tau levels in early prodromal stages of AD (E-MCI) and HC. Alternatively, neurodegeneration, cognitive impairment, and increased complaints are primarily associated with a diagnosis of E-MCI. These findings underscore the importance of considering APOE genotype when evaluating biomarkers in early stages of disease.
apolipoprotein E (APOE); early mild cognitive impairment (E-MCI); Florbetapir/AV-45/Amyvid; positron emission tomography (PET); magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); Alzheimer's disease neuroimaging initiative (ADNI)
Cognitive flexibility, or the ability to change behavior in response to external cues, is conceptualized as two processes: one for shifting between perceptual features of objects and another for shifting between the abstract rules governing the selection of these objects. Object and rule shifts are believed to engage distinct anatomical structures and functional processes. Dopamine activity has been associated with cognitive flexibility, but patients with dopaminergic deficits are not impaired on all tasks assessing cognitive flexibility, suggesting that dopamine may have different roles in the shifting of objects and rules. The goals of this study were to identify brain regions supporting object and rule shifts and to examine the role of dopamine in modulating these two forms of cognitive flexibility. Sixteen young, healthy subjects underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing a setshift task designed to differentiate shifting between object features from shifting between abstract task rules. Subjects also underwent positron emission tomography with 6-[18F]-fluoro-L-m-tyrosine (FMT), a radiotracer measuring dopamine synthesis capacity. Shifts of abstract rules were not associated with activation in any brain region, and FMT uptake did not correlate with rule shift performance. Shifting between object features deactivated the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate and activated the lateral prefrontal cortex, posterior parietal areas, and the striatum. FMT signal in the striatum correlated negatively with object shift performance and deactivation in the medial prefrontal cortex, a component of the default mode network, suggesting that dopamine influences object shifts via modulation of activity in the default mode network.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of progressive cognitive decline and dementia in adults. While the amyloid cascade hypothesis of AD posits an initiating role for the β-amyloid (Aβ) protein, there is limited understanding of why Aβ is deposited. A growing body of evidence based on in vitro, animal studies and human imaging work suggests that synaptic activity increases Aβ, which is deposited preferentially in multimodal brain regions that show continuous levels of heightened activation and plasticity across the lifespan. Imaging studies of people with genetic predispositions to AD are consistent with these findings, suggesting a mechanism whereby neural efficiency or cognitive reserve may diminish Aβ deposition. The aggregated findings unify observations from cellular and molecular studies with human cognitive neuroscience to reveal potential mechanisms of AD development.
Age-related deficits have been demonstrated in working memory performance and in the dopamine system thought to support it. We performed positron emission tomography (PET) scans on 12 younger (mean 22.7 years) and 19 older (mean 65.8 years) adults using the radiotracer 6-[18F]-fluoro-L-m-tyrosine (FMT), which measures dopamine synthesis capacity. Subjects also underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing a delayed recognition working memory task. We evaluated age-related fMRI activity differences and examined how they related to FMT signal variations in dorsal caudate within each age group. In posterior cingulate cortex and precuneus (PCC/Pc), older adults showed diminished fMRI deactivations during memory recognition compared with younger adults. Greater task-induced deactivation (in younger adults only) was associated both with higher FMT signal and with worse memory performance. Our results suggest that dopamine synthesis helps modulate default network activity in younger adults and that alterations to the dopamine system may contribute to age-related changes in working memory function.
aging; caudate; fMRI; FMT; PET; AADC
To investigate the vascular contribution to longitudinal changes in Alzheimer disease (AD) biomarkers.
The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative is a clinic based, longitudinal study with CSF, PET, and MRI biomarkers repeatedly measured in participants with normal cognition (NC), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and mild AD. Participants with severe cerebrovascular risks were excluded. Cardiovascular risk scores and MRI white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) were treated as surrogate markers for vascular burden. Generalized estimating equations were applied, and both vascular burden and its interaction with time (vascular burden × time) or time-varying WMHs were entered into regression models to assess whether biomarker rates of change were modified by vascular burden.
Cardiovascular risk profiles were not predictive of progression in CSF β42-amyloid, [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET uptake, and MRI hippocampal atrophy. Greater baseline cardiovascular risks or WMHs were generally associated with cognitive impairment, particularly poor executive function. WMHs increased over time with a faster rate in MCI and AD than in NC. Increased time-varying WMH was associated with faster decline in executive function and lower FDG uptake in NC. Otherwise, WMH was not associated with CSF and MRI biomarkers in the 3 groups. These findings remained unchanged after accounting for APOE4.
Increased WMHs are associated with aging, decreased glucose metabolism, and decline in executive function but do not affect AD-specific pathologic progression, suggesting that the vascular contribution to dementia is probably additive although not necessarily independent of the amyloid pathway.
Although beta-amyloid (Aβ) deposition is a characteristic feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD), this pathology is commonly found in elderly normal controls (NC). The pattern of Aβ deposition as detected with Pittsburgh compound-B positron emission tomography (PIB-PET) imaging shows substantial spatial overlap with the default mode network (DMN), a group of brain regions that typically deactivates during externally driven cognitive tasks. In this study, we show that DMN functional connectivity (FC) during rest is altered with increasing levels of PIB uptake in NC. Specifically, FC decreases were identified in regions implicated in episodic memory (EM) processing (posteromedial cortex, ventral medial prefrontal cortex, and angular gyrus), whereas connectivity increases were detected in dorsal and anterior medial prefrontal and lateral temporal cortices. This pattern of decreases is consistent with previous studies that suggest heightened vulnerability of EM-related brain regions in AD, whereas the observed increases in FC may reflect a compensatory response.
aging; beta-amyloid; PIB-PET; resting state fMRI
The Functional Activities Questionnaire (FAQ) and Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale – cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) are frequently-used indices of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The goal of this study was to compare FDG-PET and clinical measurements in a large sample of elderly subjects with memory disturbance. We examined relationships between glucose metabolism in FDG-PET regions of interest (FDG-ROIs), and ADAS-cog and FAQ scores in AD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) patients enrolled in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). Low glucose metabolism at baseline predicted subsequent ADAS-cog and FAQ decline. In addition, longitudinal glucose metabolism decline was associated with concurrent ADAS-cog and FAQ decline. Additionally, a power analysis revealed that FDG-ROI values have greater statistical power than ADAS-cog to detect attenuation of cognitive decline in AD and MCI patients. Glucose metabolism is a sensitive measure of change in cognition and functional ability in AD and MCI, and has value in predicting future cognitive decline.
FDG-PET; Alzheimer’s disease; Mild Cognitive Impairment
The purpose of this study was to examine how a specific informant-based measure of everyday functioning, the Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly (IQCODE; Jorm & Korten, 1988) relates to cognition and structural neuroimaging in a large multicultural, multilingual sample of Caucasians and Hispanics. Cognitive variables included selected subtests from the Spanish and English Neuropsychological Assessment Scales (SENAS; Mungas et al., 2000): Verbal Memory, Object Naming, Verbal Attention Span, Verbal Conceptual Thinking, and Pattern Recognition. The association between the IQCODE and selected neuroimaging variables, hippocampal volume and white matter hyperintensity, was evaluated in a subsample of English- and Spanish-speaking Hispanic individuals. The cognitive variables showed strong bivariate relationships with the IQCODE, although only Verbal Memory and Object Naming independently predicted level of functional ability. Verbal Memory was the strongest predictor of functional status, accounting for 23% of the variance in the IQCODE. White matter hyperintensity was also independently related to the IQCODE, accounting for 18% of the variance. Hippocampal volume was related to the IQCODE in a simple bivariate analysis, but was not an independent predictor of reported functional status after controlling for age. The relationships between cognitive variables and functional status, as well as between the imaging variables and the IQCODE, did not differ across language-ethnic groups.
Activities of daily living; Neuropsychology; Dementia; Older adults