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1.  Genetic effects on behavior are mediated by neurotransmitters and large-scale neural networks 
NeuroImage  2012;0:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.10.090.
Claims of gene-behavior associations are complex and sometimes difficult to replicate because these relationships involve many downstream endogenous and environmental processes that mediate genetic effects. Knowing these mediating processes is critical to understanding the links between genes and behavior and how these factors differ between people. We identified and characterized the effects of a gene on neurochemistry and neural networks to elucidate the mechanism, at the systems level, whereby genes influence cognition. Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) degrades dopamine in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and is polymorphic with alleles differing in enzymatic activity. We found that COMT genotype determined dopamine synthesis, such that individuals with greater COMT activity synthesized more dopamine. Dopamine synthesis in the midbrain and ventral striatum affected functional connectivity in the default mode network, likely through the mesocorticolimbic pathway, in an inverted-U pattern with greater functional connectivity in medial PFC associated with intermediate levels of COMT activity and dopamine. Greater functional connectivity correlated with greater deactivation during performance of a set-shifting task that engaged the PFC. Greater deactivation was in turn associated with better performance. The integration of these results yields a model whereby COMT affects prefrontal function by a mechanism involving dopaminergic modulation of the default mode network. The model features the well-known inverted-U function between dopamine and performance and supports the hypothesis that dopamine and the default mode network shift attentional resources to influence prefrontal cognition.
PMCID: PMC3587048  PMID: 23142068
COMT; dopamine; prefrontal cortex; default mode network; set shifting
2.  Frontotemporal Network Connectivity during Memory Encoding Is Increased with Aging and Disrupted by Beta-Amyloid 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2013;33(47):18425-18437.
Approximately 30% of cognitively normal older adults harbor brain β-amyloid (Aβ), a prominent feature of Alzheimer's disease associated with neural alterations and episodic memory decline. We examined how aging and Aβ deposition affect neural function during memory encoding of visual scenes using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in humans. Thirty-six cognitively normal older people underwent fMRI scanning, and positron emission tomography with [11C] Pittsburgh compound B to measure fibrillar brain Aβ; 15 young subjects were studied with fMRI. Older adults without Aβ deposition showed reduced regional brain activation (compared with young subjects) with decreased task-independent functional connectivity between parahippocampal gyrus and prefrontal cortex. In this network, task-related connectivity was increased compared with young subjects, and the degree of connectivity was related to memory performance. In contrast, older individuals with Aβ deposition showed no such increased task-related network connectivity, but did display increased regional activity unassociated with performance. These findings suggest that network connectivity plays a significant role in compensating for reduced regional activity during successful memory encoding in aging without Aβ deposition, while in those with Aβ this network compensation fails and is accompanied by inefficient regional hyperactivation.
PMCID: PMC3834050  PMID: 24259567
3.  Dorsal Striatal Dopamine, Food Preference and Health Perception in Humans 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96319.
To date, few studies have explored the neurochemical mechanisms supporting individual differences in food preference in humans. Here we investigate how dorsal striatal dopamine, as measured by the positron emission tomography (PET) tracer [18F]fluorometatyrosine (FMT), correlates with food-related decision-making, as well as body mass index (BMI) in 16 healthy-weight to moderately obese individuals. We find that lower PET FMT dopamine synthesis binding potential correlates with higher BMI, greater preference for perceived “healthy” foods, but also greater healthiness ratings for food items. These findings further substantiate the role of dorsal striatal dopamine in food-related behaviors and shed light on the complexity of individual differences in food preference.
PMCID: PMC4012945  PMID: 24806534
4.  Subjective cognition and amyloid deposition imaging: a Pittsburgh Compound B positron emission tomography study in normal elderly individuals 
Archives of Neurology  2012;69(2):223-229.
Subjective cognitive impairment (SCI) as an early clinical manifestation in Alzheimer disease (AD) is a central and highly debated question.
To study the relationship between subjective cognition and the neuropathological hallmark of AD, amyloid-beta (Aβ) deposition, imaged with [11C]-Pittsburg compound B (PiB) - positron emission tomography (PET), in normal elderly individuals.
Cross-sectional analysis.
Forty-eight cognitively normal elderly subjects (11 with high PiB uptake and 28 with low PiB uptake) were included. All underwent clinical and neuropsychological evaluations and MRI and PET scanning.
High PiB subjects showed significantly lower performance than low PiB subjects on an episodic memory measure, and were less confident about their general memory abilities when required to evaluate themselves relative to other people of the same age. High and low PiB groups did not differ on the accuracy of their cognitive self-reports compare to objective cognitive performance. General memory self-reports from the whole group were significantly correlated to regional PiB uptake in the right medial prefrontal cortex (PFC)/anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and in the right precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). Reduced confidence about memory abilities was associated with greater PiB in these brain regions. All results are independent of demographic variables and depressive affects.
Our findings suggest that a decrease of self-confidence about memory abilities in cognitively normal elderly subjects is related to the neuropathological hallmark of AD measured with PiB-PET imaging. The relevance of SCI in the early stages of the AD pathological process is addressed.
PMCID: PMC4004919  PMID: 22332189
Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Aging; physiology; Amyloid beta-Peptides; metabolism; Aniline Compounds; Biological Markers; Cerebral Cortex; radionuclide imaging; Cognition; physiology; Cognition Disorders; metabolism; psychology; radionuclide imaging; Cohort Studies; Female; Humans; Image Processing, Computer-Assisted; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Male; Memory; physiology; Middle Aged; Neuropsychological Tests; Positron-Emission Tomography; Prefrontal Cortex; radionuclide imaging; Radiopharmaceuticals; Reference Values; Thiazoles; subjective cognition; normal aging; Alzheimer's disease (AD); amyloid-beta (Aβ); [11C]-Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) - positron emission tomography (PET)
5.  The Aging Brain and Cognition 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(4):488-495.
β-Amyloid (Aβ) deposition and vascular brain injury (VBI) frequently co-occur and are both associated with cognitive decline in aging. Determining whether a direct relationship exists between them has been challenging. We sought to understand VBI’s influence on cognition and clinical impairment, separate from and in conjunction with pathologic changes associated with Alzheimer disease (AD).
To examine the relationship between neuroimaging measures of VBI and brain Aβ deposition and their associations with cognition.
Design and Setting
A cross-sectional study in a community- and clinic-based sample recruited for elevated vascular disease risk factors.
Clinically normal (mean age, 77.1 years [N=30]), cognitively impaired (mean age, 78.0 years [N=24]), and mildly demented (mean age, 79.8 years [N=7]) participants.
Magnetic resonance imaging, Aβ (Pitts-burgh Compound B–positron emission tomographic [PiB-PET]) imaging, and cognitive testing.
Main Outcome Measures
Magnetic resonance images were rated for the presence and location of infarct (34 infarct-positive participants, 27 infarct-negative participants) and were used to quantify white matter lesion volume. The PiB-PET uptake ratios were used to create a PiB index by averaging uptake across regions vulnerable to early Aβ deposition; PiB positivity (29 PiB-positive participants, 32 PiB-negative participants) was determined from a data-derived threshold. Standardized composite cognitive measures included executive function and verbal and nonverbal memory.
Vascular brain injury and Aβ were independent in both cognitively normal and impaired participants. Infarction, particularly in cortical and subcortical gray matter, was associated with lower cognitive performance in all domains (P<.05 for all comparisons). Pittsburgh Compound B positivity was neither a significant predictor of cognition nor interacted with VBI.
Conclusions and Relevance
In this elderly sample with normal cognition to mild dementia, enriched for vascular disease, VBI was more influential than Aβ in contemporaneous cognitive function and remained predictive after including the possible influence of Aβ. There was no evidence that VBI increases the likelihood of Aβ deposition. This finding highlights the importance of VBI in mild cognitive impairment and suggests that the impact of cerebrovascular disease should be considered with respect to defining the etiology of mild cognitive impairment.
PMCID: PMC3771392  PMID: 23400560
6.  Parallel ICA of FDG-PET and PiB-PET in three conditions with underlying Alzheimer's pathology 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2014;4:508-516.
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.
PMCID: PMC3984448  PMID: 24818077
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
7.  Greater medial temporal hypometabolism and lower cortical amyloid burden in ApoE4-positive AD patients 
ApoE4 has been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amyloid deposition and hypometabolism. ApoE4 is less prevalent in non-amnestic AD variants suggesting a direct effect on the clinical phenotype. However, the impact of ApoE4 on amyloid burden and glucose metabolism across different clinical AD syndromes is not well understood. We aimed to assess the relationship between amyloid deposition, glucose metabolism and ApoE4 genotype in a clinically heterogeneous population of AD patients.
Fifty-two patients with probable AD (NIA-AA) underwent [11C]Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) and [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET scans. All patients had positive PIB-PET scans. 23 were ApoE4+ (14 heterozygous, 9 homozygous) and 29 were ApoE4−. Groups consisted of language-variant AD, visual-variant AD, and AD patients with amnestic and dysexecutive deficits. 52 healthy controls were included for comparison. FDG and PIB uptake was compared between groups on a voxel-wise basis and in regions-of-interest.
Whilst PIB patterns were diffuse in both patient groups, ApoE4− patients showed higher PIB uptake than ApoE4+ patients across the cortex. Higher PIB uptake in ApoE4− patients was particularly significant in right lateral frontotemporal regions. In contrast, similar patterns of hypometabolism relative to controls were found in both patient groups, mainly involving lateral temporoparietal cortex, precuneus, posterior cingulate cortex, and middle frontal gyrus. Comparing patient groups, ApoE4+ subjects showed greater hypometabolism in bilateral medial temporal and right lateral temporal regions, and ApoE4− patients showed greater hypometabolism in cortical areas including supplementary motor cortex and superior frontal gyrus.
ApoE4+ AD patients showed lower global amyloid burden and greater medial temporal hypometabolism compared to matched ApoE4− patients. These findings suggest that ApoE4 may increase susceptibility to molecular pathology and modulate the anatomic pattern of neurodegeneration in AD.
PMCID: PMC3946299  PMID: 23965289
Alzheimer’s disease; PET; amyloid; glucose metabolism; apolipoprotein E
8.  Diverging patterns of amyloid deposition and hypometabolism in clinical variants of probable Alzheimer’s disease 
Brain  2013;136(3):844-858.
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.
PMCID: PMC3580269  PMID: 23358601
Alzheimer’s disease; posterior cortical atrophy; logopenic variant of PPA; positron emission tomography (PET); functional networks
9.  Update on hypothetical model of Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers 
Lancet neurology  2013;12(2):207-216.
In 2010, the authors published a hypothetical model of the major biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The model was received with interest because we described the temporal evolution of AD biomarkers in relation to each other and to the onset and progression of clinical symptoms. In the interim, evidence has accumulated that supports the major assumptions of this model. Evidence has also appeared that challenges some of the assumptions underlying our original model. Recent evidence has allowed us to modify our original model. Refinements include indexing subjects by time rather than clinical symptom severity; incorporating inter-subject variability in cognitive response to the progression of AD pathophysiology; modifications of the specific temporal ordering of some biomarkers; and, recognition that the two major proteinopathies underlying AD biomarker changes, Aβ and tau, may be initiated independently in late onset AD where we hypothesize that an incident Aβopathy can accelerate an antecedent tauopathy.
PMCID: PMC3622225  PMID: 23332364
10.  Effects of age and beta-amyloid on cognitive changes in normal elderly people 
Neurobiology of aging  2012;33(12):2746-2755.
Age-related decline is common in multiple cognitive domains. β-amyloid (Aβ) deposition, a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, is also associated with cognitive changes in many older people. In this study, we examined a wide range of cognitive function in order to differentiate the effect of age and Aβ on cognition during aging. Using PET imaging with the radiotracer Pittsburgh compound B (PIB), we classified normal older subjects as High PIB-Old and Low PIB-Old and applied sequential multivariate analyses (i.e., principal components analysis [PCA] and discriminant analysis) to obtain summary measures of cognitive tests encompassing multiple cognitive domains. Among 5 cognitive components, a significant age effect was observed in component scores of visual memory and executive functions, regardless of the level of Aβ. Discriminant scores (weighted scores of the 5 cognitive components) revealed a significant effect of both age and Aβ and were further associated with quantitative PIB counts. The results of the current study highlight both effects of age and Aβ on cognitive changes in normal elderly.
PMCID: PMC3381075  PMID: 22429886
Age; beta-amyloid; PIB-PET; cognition; principal component analysis; discriminant analysis
11.  CSF biomarker associations with change in hippocampal volume and precuneus thickness: implications for the Alzheimer’s pathological cascade 
Brain imaging and behavior  2012;6(4):599-609.
Neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) and amyloid plaques are hallmark neuropathological features of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). There is some debate as to which neuropathological feature comes first in the disease process, with early autopsy studies suggesting that NFT develop first, and more recent neuroimaging studies supporting the early role of amyloid beta (Aβ) deposition. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers of Aβ42 and hyperphosphorylated tau (p-tau) have been shown to serve as in vivo proxy measures of amyloid plaques and NFT, respectively. The aim of this study was to examine the association between CSF biomarkers and rate of atrophy in the precuneus and hippocampus. These regions were selected because the precuneus appears to be affected early and severely by Aβ deposition, and the hippocampus similarly by NFT pathology. We predicted (1) baseline Aβ42 would be related to accelerated rate of cortical thinning in the precuneus and volume loss in the hippocampus, with the latter relationship expected to be weaker, (2) baseline p-tau181p would be related to accelerated rate of hippocampal atrophy and cortical thinning in the precuneus, with the latter relationship expected to be weaker. Using all ADNI cohorts, we fitted separate linear mixed-effects models for changes in hippocampus and precuneus longitudinal outcome measures with baseline CSF biomarkers modeled as predictors. Results partially supported our hypotheses: Both baseline p-tau181p and Aβ42 were associated with hippocampal atrophy over time. Neither p-tau181p nor Aβ42 were significantly related to cortical thinning in the precuneus over time. However, follow-up analyses demonstrated that having abnormal levels of both Aβ42 and p-tau181p was associated with an accelerated rate of atrophy in both the hippocampus and precuneus. Results support early effects of Aβ in the Alzheimer’s disease process, which are less apparent than and perhaps dependent on p-tau effects as the disease progresses. However, amyloid deposition alone may be insufficient for emergence of significant morphometric changes and clinical symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3656503  PMID: 22614327
Biomarkers; Beta Amyloid; Phosphorylated Tau; MRI; Alzheimer’s Disease; Hippocampus; Precuneus
12.  Relative Contributions of Biomarkers in Alzheimer’s Disease 
Annals of epidemiology  2012;22(12):868-875.
To assess relationships between biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and their potential contributions to AD.
Biomarkers and cognitive evaluations were assessed longitudinally for 179 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) from 2003–2006, and were used to examine, at any given time, the joint contributions of hippocampal volume, whole brain volume, and brain glucose metabolism on clinical AD progression, using the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive subscale (ADAS-Cog). Marginal structural models (MSMs) were applied, and inverse-probability of treatment weight (IPTW) estimation was utilized to account for time-dependent confounding between study variables.
At any given time, population-level differences (e.g. 1-standard deviation (SD) increase) in brain glucose metabolism (−1.036 95% CI: −1.608, −0.464) and hippocampal volume (−1.537 95% CI: −2.399, −0.674) independently reduced mean ADAS-Cog, whereas a 1-SD increase in whole brain volume did not (0.372 95% CI: −0.283, 1.027). Effects of brain glucose metabolism differed in subgroups defined by baseline covariates (e.g., age), but no subgroup effects were observed for hippocampal volume and brain volume.
Brain glucose metabolism and hippocampal volume represent relevant biological markers in subjects at risk for AD.
PMCID: PMC3510749  PMID: 23102709
biological markers; causality; dementia; longitudinal studies
13.  Anatomical Mapping of White Matter Hyperintensities (WMH) 
Stroke; a journal of cerebral circulation  2004;36(1):10.1161/01.STR.0000150668.58689.f2.
Background and Purpose
MRI segmentation and mapping techniques were used to assess evidence in support of categorical distinctions between periventricular white matter hyperintensities (PVWMH) and deep WMH (DWMH). Qualitative MRI studies generally identify 2 categories of WMH on the basis of anatomical localization. Separate pathophysiologies and behavioral consequences are often attributed to these 2 classes of WMH. However, evidence to support these empirical distinctions has not been rigorously sought.
MRI analysis of 55 subjects included quantification of WMH volume, mapping onto a common anatomical image, and spatial localization of each WMH voxel. WMH locations were then divided into PVWMH and DWMH on the basis of distance from the lateral ventricles and correlations, with total WMH volume determined. Periventricular distance histograms of WMH voxels were also calculated.
PVWMH and DWMH were highly correlated with total WMH (R2>0.95) and with each other (R2>0.87). Mapping of all WMH revealed smooth expansion from around central cerebrospinal fluid spaces into more distal cerebral white matter with increasing WMH volume.
PVWMH, DWMH, and total WMH are highly correlated with each other. Moreover, spatial analysis failed to identify distinct subpopulations for PVWMH and DWMH. These results suggest that categorical distinctions between PVWMH and DWMH may be arbitrary, and conclusions regarding individual relationships between causal factors or behavior for PVWMH and DWMH may more accurately reflect total WMH volume relationships.
PMCID: PMC3816357  PMID: 15576652
cerebrovascular disorders; magnetic resonanace imaging; white matter
14.  Associations between vascular risk factors, carotid atherosclerosis and cortical volume and thickness in older adults 
Background and Purpose
To investigate whether the Framingham Cardiovascular Risk Profile (FCRP) and carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) are associated with cortical volume and thickness.
Consecutive subjects participating in a prospective cohort study of aging and mild cognitive impairment enriched for vascular risk factors for atherosclerosis underwent structural MRI scans at 3T and 4T MRI at three sites. Freesurfer (v5.1) was used to obtain regional measures of neocortical volumes (mm3) and thickness (mm). Multiple linear regression was used to determine the association of FCRP and CIMT with cortical volume and thickness
152 subjects (82 men) were aged 78 (±7) years old, 94 had a CDR of 0, 58 had a clinical dementia rating (CDR) of 0.5 and the mean mini-mental status examination (MMSE) was 28 ± 2. FCRP score was inversely associated with total gray matter (GM) volume, parietal and temporal GM volume (adjusted p<0.04). FCRP was inversely associated with parietal and total cerebral GM thickness (adjusted p<0.03). CIMT was inversely associated with thickness of parietal GM only (adjusted p=0.04). Including history of myocardial infarction or stroke and radiologic evidence of brain infarction, or apoE genotype did not alter relationships with FCRP or CIMT.
Increased cardiovascular risk was associated with reduced GM volume and thickness in regions also affected by Alzheimer’s disease (AD), independent of infarcts and apoE genotype. These results suggest a “double hit” toward developing dementia when someone with incipient AD also has high cardiovascular risk.
PMCID: PMC3732460  PMID: 22984010
Framingham cardiovascular risk profile; carotid intima media thickness; gray matter; cortical volume; cortical thickness; atrophy
15.  Amyloid Deposition, Hypometabolism, and Longitudinal Cognitive Decline 
Annals of neurology  2012;72(4):578-586.
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.
PMCID: PMC3786871  PMID: 23109153
16.  Alzheimer’s disease neurodegenerative biomarkers are associated with decreased cognitive function but not beta-amyloid in cognitively normal older individuals 
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.
PMCID: PMC3687777  PMID: 23536070
17.  Vascular burden and Alzheimer disease pathologic progression 
Neurology  2012;79(13):1349-1355.
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.
PMCID: PMC3448744  PMID: 22972646
18.  White Matter Changes Compromise Prefrontal Cortex Function in Healthy Elderly Individuals 
Journal of cognitive neuroscience  2006;18(3):418-429.
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.
PMCID: PMC3776596  PMID: 16513006
19.  Different mechanisms of episodic memory failure in mild cognitive impairment 
Neuropsychologia  2005;43(11):1688-1697.
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.
PMCID: PMC3771323  PMID: 16009250
Aging; Dementia; White matter hyperintensities; Working memory; Cerebrovascular disease; Hippocampus
20.  Coronary risk correlates with cerebral amyloid deposition 
Neurobiology of Aging  2011;33(9):1979-1987.
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.
PMCID: PMC3371309  PMID: 22078485
vascular risk factors; coronary risk factors; cerebral amyloid; Mild Cognitive Impairment; Normal Aging; Alzheimer’s disease
21.  CSF Biomarker and PIB-PET–Derived Beta-Amyloid Signature Predicts Metabolic, Gray Matter, and Cognitive Changes in Nondemented Subjects 
Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY)  2011;22(9):1993-2004.
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.
PMCID: PMC3500862  PMID: 22038908
22.  Amyloid-β Imaging with Pittsburgh Compound B and Florbetapir: Comparing Radiotracers and Quantification Methods 
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.
PMCID: PMC3747730  PMID: 23166389
amyloid-β; Alzheimer’s disease; PET imaging
23.  Association of Lifetime Cognitive Engagement and Low β-Amyloid Deposition 
Archives of neurology  2012;69(5):623-629.
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.
Berkeley, California.
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.
PMCID: PMC3747737  PMID: 22271235
24.  Aβ Deposition in Aging Is Associated with Increases in Brain Activation during Successful Memory Encoding 
Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY)  2011;22(8):1813-1823.
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.
PMCID: PMC3388896  PMID: 21945849
aging; Alzheimer’s disease; beta-amyloid; episodic memory; fMRI; PIB-PET
25.  Dopamine supports coupling of attention-related networks 
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.
PMCID: PMC3410707  PMID: 22787044

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