Biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease (AD) are increasingly important. All modern AD therapeutic trials employ AD biomarkers in some capacity. In addition, AD biomarkers are an essential component of recently updated diagnostic criteria for AD from the National Institute on Aging – Alzheimer's Association. Biomarkers serve as proxies for specific pathophysiological features of disease. The 5 most well established AD biomarkers include both brain imaging and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) measures – CSF Abeta and tau, amyloid positron emission tomography (PET), fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET, and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This article reviews evidence supporting the position that MRI is a biomarker of neurodegenerative atrophy. Topics covered include methods of extracting quantitative and semi quantitative information from structural MRI; imaging-autopsy correlation; and evidence supporting diagnostic and prognostic value of MRI measures. Finally, the place of MRI in a hypothetical model of temporal ordering of AD biomarkers is reviewed.
We aimed to assess associations between clinical, imaging, pathological and genetic features and frontal lobe asymmetry in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). Volumes of the left and right dorsolateral, medial and orbital frontal lobes were measured in 80 bvFTD subjects and subjects were classified into three groups according to the degree of asymmetry (asymmetric left, asymmetric right, symmetric) using cluster analysis. The majority of subjects were symmetric (65%), with 20% asymmetric left and 15% asymmetric right. There were no clinical differences across groups, although there was a trend for greater behavioral dyscontrol in right asymmetric compared to left asymmetric subjects. More widespread atrophy involving the parietal lobe was observed in the symmetric group. Genetic features differed across groups with symmetric frontal lobes associated with C9ORF72 and tau mutations, while asymmetric frontal lobes were associated with progranulin mutations. These findings therefore suggest that neuroanatomical patterns of frontal lobe atrophy in bvFTD are influenced by specific gene mutations.
Frontotemporal dementia; frontal lobes; MRI; asymmetry; microtubule associated protein tau; progranulin; C9ORF72; pathology
Four subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions have been described (types A–D). Of these four subtypes, motor neuron disease is more commonly associated with type B pathology, but has also been reported with type A pathology. We have noted, however, the unusual occurrence of cases of type C pathology having corticospinal tract degeneration. We aimed to assess the severity of corticospinal tract degeneration in a large cohort of cases with type C (n = 31). Pathological analysis included semi-quantitation of myelin loss of fibres of the corticospinal tract and associated macrophage burden, as well as axonal loss, at the level of the medullary pyramids. We also assessed for motor cortex degeneration and fibre loss of the medial lemniscus/olivocerebellar tract. All cases were subdivided into three groups based on the degree of corticospinal tract degeneration: (i) no corticospinal tract degeneration; (ii) equivocal corticospinal tract degeneration; and (iii) moderate to very severe corticospinal tract degeneration. Clinical, genetic, pathological and imaging comparisons were performed across groups. Eight cases had no corticospinal tract degeneration, and 14 cases had equivocal to mild corticospinal tract degeneration. Nine cases, however, had moderate to very severe corticospinal tract degeneration with myelin and axonal loss. In these nine cases, there was degeneration of the motor cortex without lower motor neuron degeneration or involvement of other brainstem tracts. These cases most commonly presented as semantic dementia, and they had longer disease duration (mean: 15.3 years) compared with the other two groups (10.8 and 9.9 years; P = 0.03). After adjusting for disease duration, severity of corticospinal tract degeneration remained significantly different across groups. Only one case, without corticospinal tract degeneration, was found to have a hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene. All three groups were associated with anterior temporal lobe atrophy on MRI; however, the cases with moderate to severe corticospinal tract degeneration showed right-sided temporal lobe asymmetry and greater involvement of the right temporal lobe and superior motor cortices than the other groups. In contrast, the cases with no or equivocal corticospinal tract degeneration were more likely to show left-sided temporal lobe asymmetry. For comparison, the corticospinal tract was assessed in 86 type A and B cases, and only two cases showed evidence of corticospinal tract degeneration without lower motor neuron degeneration. These findings confirm that there exists a unique association between frontotemporal lobar degeneration with type C pathology and corticospinal tract degeneration, with this entity showing a predilection to involve the right temporal lobe.
TDP-43 type C; corticospinal tract; MRI; semantic dementia; right temporal lobe
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.
Various neuroimaging measures are being evaluated for tracking Alzheimer’s disease (AD) progression in therapeutic trials, including measures of structural brain change based on repeated scanning of patients with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Methods to compute brain change must be robust to scan quality. Biases may arise if any scans are thrown out, as this can lead to the true changes being overestimated or underestimated. Here we analyzed the full MRI dataset from the first phase of Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI-1) from the first phase of Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI-1) and assessed several sources of bias that can arise when tracking brain changes with structural brain imaging methods, as part of a pipeline for tensor-based morphometry (TBM). In all healthy subjects who completed MRI scanning at screening, 6, 12, and 24 months, brain atrophy was essentially linear with no detectable bias in longitudinal measures. In power analyses for clinical trials based on these change measures, only 39 AD patients and 95 mild cognitive impairment (MCI) subjects were needed for a 24-month trial to detect a 25% reduction in the average rate of change using a two-sided test (α=0.05, power=80%). Further sample size reductions were achieved by stratifying the data into Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) ε4 carriers versus non-carriers. We show how selective data exclusion affects sample size estimates, motivating an objective comparison of different analysis techniques based on statistical power and robustness. TBM is an unbiased, robust, high-throughput imaging surrogate marker for large, multi-site neuroimaging studies and clinical trials of AD and MCI.
Alzheimer’s disease; Mild cognitive impairment; Aging; ADNI; Tensor-based morphometry; Drug trial
The appearance of β-amyloidosis and brain injury biomarkers in cognitively normal (CN) persons is thought to define risk for the future development of cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but their interaction is poorly understood.
To test the hypothesis that the joint presence of β-amyloidosis and brain injury biomarkers would lead to more rapid neurodegeneration.
Longitudinal Cohort Study
Population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging.
191 CN persons (median age 77, range 71–93) in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who underwent MR, FDG PET and PiB PET imaging at least twice 15 months apart. Subjects were grouped according to the recommendations of the NIA-AA Preclinical AD criteria, based on the presence of β-amyloidosis, defined as a PiB PET SUVr >1.5, alone (Stage 1) or with brain injury (stage 2+3), defined as hippocampal atrophy or FDG hypometabolism. We also studied a group of MCI (n=17) and dementia (n=9) patients from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging or the Mayo Alzheimer Center with similar follow-up times who had had comparable imaging and who all had PiB PET SUVr >1.5.
Main Outcome Measures
Rate of change of cortical volume on volumetric MR scans and rate of change of glucose metabolism on FDG PET scans.
There were 25 CN subjects with both high PiB retention and low hippocampal volume or FDG hypometabolism at baseline (Preclinical AD stages 2+3). On follow-up scans, the Preclinical AD stages 2+3 subjects had greater loss of medial temporal lobe volume and greater glucose hypometabolism in the medial temporal lobe compared to other CN groups. The changes were similar to the cognitively impaired participants. Extra-temporal regions did not show similar changes.
Higher rates of medial temporal neurodegeneration occurred in CN individuals who, on their initial scans, had abnormal levels of both β-amyloid and brain injury biomarkers.
Alzheimer’s disease; PET imaging; MR imaging; Epidemiology
Leptin, a hormone produced by body fat tissue, acts on hypothalamic receptors in the brain to regulate appetite and energy expenditure, and on neurons in the arcuate nucleus to signal that a individual has had enough to eat. Leptin enters the central nervous system at levels that depend on a individual’s body fat. Obese people, on average, show greater brain atrophy in old age, so it is valuable to know whether brain atrophy relates to leptin levels, which can be targeted by interventions. We therefore determined how plasma leptin levels, and BMI, relate to brain structure, and whether leptin levels might account for BMI’s effect on the brain. We measured regional brain volumes using tensor-based morphometry, in MRI scans of 517 elderly individuals with plasma leptin measured (mean: 13.3±0.6 ng/ml; mean age: 75.2±7.3 years; 321 men/196 women). We related plasma leptin levels to brain volumes at every location in the brain after adjusting for age, sex, and diagnosis and, later, also BMI. Plasma leptin levels were significantly higher (a) in women than men, and (b) in obese versus overweight, normal or underweight individuals. People with higher leptin levels showed deficits in frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes, brainstem, and the cerebellum, irrespective of age, sex, or diagnosis. These associations persisted after controlling for BMI. Greater brain atrophy may occur in people with central leptin insufficiency, a marker of obesity. Therapeutic manipulation of leptin may be a promising direction for slowing brain decline.
Alzheimer’s disease; BMI; brain structure; leptin; MRI; obesity
To develop a reliable magnetic resonance elastography (MRE)-based method for measuring regional brain stiffness.
First, simulation studies were used to demonstrate how stiffness measurements can be biased by changes in brain morphometry, such as those due to atrophy. Adaptive postprocessing methods were created that significantly reduce the spatial extent of edge artifacts and eliminate atrophy-related bias. Second, a pipeline for regional brain stiffness measurement was developed and evaluated for test-retest reliability in 10 healthy control subjects.
This technique indicates high test-retest repeatability with a typical coefficient of variation of less than 1% for global brain stiffness and less than 2% for the lobes of the brain and the cerebellum. Furthermore, this study reveals that the brain possesses a characteristic topography of mechanical properties, and also that lobar stiffness measurements tend to correlate with one another within an individual.
The methods presented in this work are resistant to noise- and edge-related biases that are common in the field of brain MRE, demonstrate high test-retest reliability, and provide independent regional stiffness measurements. This pipeline will allow future investigations to measure changes to the brain’s mechanical properties and how they relate to the characteristic topographies that are typical of many neurologic diseases.
White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) associate with both cognitive slowing and motor dysfunction in the neurologically normal elderly. A full understanding of the pathology underlying this clinicoradiologic finding is currently lacking in autopsy-confirmed normal brains. To determine the histopathologic basis of WMH seen on MRI, we studied the relationship between postmortem fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) intensity and neuropathologic markers of white matter lesions (WMLs) that correspond to WMH in cognitively normal aging brains. Samples of periventricular (n = 24), subcortical (n = 26), and normal-appearing white matter (NAWM, n = 31) from 4 clinically and pathologically-confirmed normal cases were examined. FLAIR intensity, vacuolation, and myelin basic protein (MBP) immunoreactivity loss were significantly higher in periventricular WML vs. subcortical WML; both were higher than in NAWM. The subcortical WML and NAWM had significantly less axonal loss, astrocytic burden, microglial density, and oligodendrocyte loss than the periventricular WML. Thus, vacuolation, myelin density and small vessel density contribute to the rarefaction of white matter whereas axonal density, oligodendrocyte density, astroglial burden and microglial density did not. These data suggest that the age-related loss of MBP and a decrease in small vessel density, may contribute to vacuolation of white matter. The vacuolation enables interstitial fluid to accumulate, which contributes to the prolonged T2 relaxation and elevated FLAIR intensity in the white matter.
Digital microscopy; Fluid attenuated inversion recovery; Normal aging; Oligodendrocytes; Postmortem magnetic resonance imaging; White matter
Manual segmentation from magnetic resonance imaging (MR) is the gold standard for evaluating hippocampal atrophy in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Nonetheless, different segmentation protocols provide up to 2.5-fold volume differences. Here we surveyed the most frequently used segmentation protocols in the AD literature as a preliminary step for international harmonization. The anatomical landmarks (anteriormost and posteriormost slices, superior, inferior, medial, and lateral borders) were identified from 12 published protocols for hippocampal manual segmentation ([Abbreviation] first author, publication year: [B] Bartzokis, 1998; [C] Convit, 1997; [dTM] deToledo-Morrell, 2004; [H] Haller, 1997; [J] Jack, 1994; [K] Killiany, 1993; [L] Lehericy, 1994; [M] Malykhin, 2007; [Pa] Pantel, 2000; [Pr] Pruessner, 2000; [S] Soininen, 1994; [W] Watson, 1992). The hippocampi of one healthy control and one AD patient taken from the 1.5T MR ADNI database were segmented by a single rater according to each protocol. The accuracy of the protocols’ interpretation and translation into practice was checked with lead authors of protocols through individual interactive web conferences. Semantically harmonized landmarks and differences were then extracted, regarding: (a) the posteriormost slice, protocol [B] being the most restrictive, and [H, M, Pa, Pr, S] the most inclusive; (b) inclusion [C, dTM, J, L, M, Pr, W] or exclusion [B, H, K, Pa, S] of alveus/fimbria; (c) separation from the parahippocampal gyrus, [C] being the most restrictive, [B, dTM, H, J, Pa, S] the most inclusive. There were no substantial differences in the definition of the anteriormost slice. This survey will allow us to operationalize differences among protocols into tracing units, measure their impact on the repeatability and diagnostic accuracy of manual hippocampal segmentation, and finally develop a harmonized protocol.
Hippocampus; manual segmentation protocol; harmonization; anatomical landmark; Alzheimer’s disease; manual tracing; medial temporal lobes; atrophy; degeneration; MRI
To evaluate the effects of recent advances in MRI RF coil and parallel imaging technology on brain volume measurement consistency.
Materials and Methods
103 whole-brain MRI volumes were acquired at a clinical 3T MRI, equipped with a 12- and 32-channel head coil, using the T1-weighted protocol as employed in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative study with parallel imaging accelerations ranging from 1 to 5. An experienced reader performed qualitative ratings of the images. For quantitative analysis, differences in composite width (CW, a measure of image similarity) and boundary shift integral (BSI, a measure of whole-brain atrophy) were calculated.
Intra- and inter-session comparisons of CW and BSI measures from scans with equal acceleration demonstrated excellent scan-rescan accuracy, even at the highest acceleration applied. Pairs-of-scans acquired with different accelerations exhibited poor scan-rescan consistency only when differences in the acceleration factor were maximized. A change in the coil hardware between compared scans was found to bias the BSI measure.
The most important findings are that the accelerated acquisitions appear to be compatible with the assessment of high-quality quantitative information and that for highest scan-rescan accuracy in serial scans the acquisition protocol should be kept as consistent as possible over time.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); brain; measurement consistency
To investigate the effect of intellectual and physical activity on biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathophysiology and cognition in a non-demented elderly population. The biomarkers evaluated were brain Aβ-amyloid load via PIB-PET, neuronal dysfunction via FDG-PET and neurodegeneration via Structural-MRI.
We studied 515 non-demented (428 cognitively normal and 87 MCI) participants in the population based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who completed a 3T MRI, PET scans, APOE genotype, had lifestyle activity measures and cognition data available. The imaging measures computed were global PiB-PET uptake; global FDG-PET and MRI based hippocampal volume. We consolidated activity variables into lifetime intellectual, current intellectual and current physical activities. We used a global cognitive Z-score as a measure of cognition. We applied two independent methods – partial correlation analysis adjusted for age and gender and path analysis using structural equations to evaluate the associations between lifestyle activities, imaging biomarkers and global cognition.
None of the lifestyle variables correlated with the biomarkers and the path associations between lifestyle variables and biomarkers were not significant (p>0.05). On the other hand, all the biomarkers were correlated with global cognitive Z-score (p<0.05) and the path associations between (lifetime and current) intellectual activities and global Z-score were significant (p<0.01).
Intellectual and physical activity lifestyle factors were not associated with AD biomarkers but intellectual lifestyle factors explained variability in the cognitive performance in this non-demented population. This study provides evidence that lifestyle activities may delay the onset of dementia but do not significantly influence the expression of AD pathophysiology.
Alzheimer’s disease; Imaging biomarkers; Lifestyle Activities
When using imaging to predict time to progression from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer's disease (AD), time-to-event statistical methods account for varying lengths of follow-up times among subjects whereas two-sample t-tests in voxel-based morphometry (VBM) do not. Our objectives were to apply a time-to-event voxel-based analytic method to identify regions on MRI where atrophy is associated with significantly increased risk of future progression to AD in subjects with MCI and to compare it to traditional voxel-level patterns obtained by applying two-sample methods. We also compared the power required to detect an association using time-to-event methods versus two-sample approaches.
Subjects with MCI at baseline were followed prospectively. The event of interest was clinical diagnosis of AD. Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for age, sex, and education were used to estimate the relative hazard of progression from MCI to AD based on rank-transformed voxel-level gray matter density (GMD) estimates.
The greatest risk of progression to AD was associated with atrophy of the medial temporal lobes. Patients ranked at the 25th percentile of GMD in these regions had more than a doubling of risk of progression to AD at a given time-point compared to patients at the 75th percentile. Power calculations showed the time-to-event approach to be more efficient than the traditional two-sample approach.
We present a new voxel-based analytic method that incorporates time-to-event statistical methods. In the context of a progressive disease like AD, time-to-event VBM seems more appropriate and powerful than traditional two-sample methods.
Alzheimer Disease; mild cognitive impairment; magnetic resonance imaging; Cox proportional hazards model
Atypical variants of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have been pathologically defined based on the distribution of neurofibrillary tangles; hippocampal sparing (HpSp) AD shows minimal involvement of the hippocampus and limbic predominant (LP) AD shows neurofibrillary tangles restricted to the medial temporal lobe. We aimed to determine whether MRI patterns of atrophy differ across HpSp AD, LP AD and typical AD, and whether imaging could be a useful predictor of pathological subtype during life.
In this case-control study, we identified 177 patients who had been prospectively followed in the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, were demented during life, had AD pathology at autopsy (Braak stage ≥ IV, intermediate-high probability AD) and an antemortem MRI. Cases were assigned to one of three pathological subtypes (HpSp n=19, typical n=125, or LP AD n=33) based on neurofibrillary tangle counts and their ratio in association cortices to hippocampus, without reference to neuronal loss. Voxel-based morphometry and atlas-based parcellation were used to compare patterns of grey matter loss across groups, and to controls.
The severity of medial temporal and cortical grey matter atrophy differed across subtypes. The most severe medial temporal atrophy was observed in LP AD, followed by typical AD, and then HpSp AD. Conversely, the most severe cortical atrophy was observed in HpSp AD, followed by typical AD, and then LP AD. A ratio of hippocampal-to-cortical volume provided the best discrimination across all three AD subtypes. The majority of typical AD (98/125;78%) and LP AD (31/33;94%) subjects, but only 8/19 (42%) of the HpSp AD subjects, presented with a dominant amnestic syndrome.
Patterns of atrophy on MRI differ across the pathological subtypes of AD, suggesting that MR regional volumetrics reliably track the distribution of neurofibrillary tangle pathology and can predict pathological subtype during life.
US National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging)
The lack of an in vivo diagnostic test for AD has prompted the targeting of amyloid plaques with diagnostic imaging probes. We describe the development of a contrast agent (CA) for magnetic resonance microimaging that utilizes the F(ab′)2 fragment of a monoclonal antibody raised against fibrillar human Aβ42
This fragment is polyamine modified to enhance its BBB permeability and its ability to bind to amyloid plaques. It is also conjugated with a chelator and gadolinium for subsequent imaging of individual amyloid plaques
Pharmacokinetic studies demonstrated this 125I-CA has higher BBB permeability and lower accumulation in the liver and kidney than F(ab′)2 in WT mice. The CA retains its ability to bind Aβ40/42 monomers/fibrils and also binds to amyloid plaques in sections of AD mouse brain. Intravenous injection of 125I-CA into the AD mouse demonstrates targeting of amyloid plaques throughout the cortex/hippocampus as detected by emulsion autoradiography. Incubation of AD mouse brain slices in vitro with this CA resulted in selective enhancement on T1-weighted spin-echo images, which co-register with individual plaques observed on spatially matched T2-weighted spin-echo image
Development of such a molecular probe is expected to open new avenues for the diagnosis of AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid plaques; antibody fragments; contrast agent; magnetic resonance imaging
This supplement to the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease contains more than half of the chapters from The Handbook of Imaging the Alzheimer Brain, which was first presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Paris, in July, 2011.
While the Handbook contains 27 chapters that are modified articles from 2009, 2010, and 2011 issues of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, this supplement contains the 31 new chapters of that book and an introductory article drawn from the introductions to each section of the book.
The Handbook was designed to provide a multilevel overview of the full field of brain imaging related to Alzheimer's disease (AD). The Handbook, as well as this supplement, contains both reviews of the basic concepts of imaging, the latest developments in imaging, and various discussions and perspectives of the problems of the field and promising directions.
The Handbook was designed to be useful for students and clinicians interested in AD as well as scientists studying the brain and pathology related to AD.
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is the second most common cause of neurodegenerative dementia after Alzheimer's disease (AD). Our objective was to determine whether the 11C–Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB) retention and regional hypometabolism on PET and regional cortical atrophy on MRI are complementary in characterizing patients with DLB and differentiating them from AD. We studied age, gender and education matched patients with a clinical diagnosis of DLB (n=21), AD (n=21), and cognitively normal subjects (n=42). Hippocampal atrophy, global cortical PiB retention and occipital lobe metabolism in combination distinguished DLB from AD better than any of the measurements alone (area under the receiver operating characteristic=0.98).Five of the DLB and AD patients who underwent autopsy were distinguished through multimodality imaging. These data demonstrate that MRI and PiB PET contribute to characterizing the distinct pathological mechanisms in patients with AD compared to DLB. Occipital and posterior parietotemporal lobe hypometabolism is a distinguishing feature of DLB and this regional hypometabolic pattern is independent of the amyloid pathology.
Dementia with Lewy bodies; MRI; PET; FDG; PiB; Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the only leading cause of death for which no disease-modifying therapy is currently available. Recent disappointing trial results at the dementia stage of AD have raised multiple questions about our current approaches to the development of disease-modifying agents. Converging evidence suggests that the pathophysiological process of AD begins many years before the onset of dementia. So why do we keep testing drugs aimed at the initial stages of the disease process in patients at the end-stage of the illness?
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) remains one of the most feared consequences of aging, affecting more than one out of every ten individuals over the age of 65. With more than 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day in the United States alone, we are truly facing an AD epidemic. Over the past decade, a string of disappointing clinical trial results have raised concerns about our current strategy for development of AD-modifying therapies. Three hypotheses can explain these recent AD trial failures: (i) We are targeting the wrong pathophysiological mechanisms; (ii) The drugs do not engage the intended targets in patients; and (iii) The drugs are hitting the right targets, but are doing so at the wrong stage of the disease. Here, we address the third supposition and suggest that specific amyloid-based therapies be directed at much earlier stages of ADperhaps even prior to the emergence of clinical symptoms. Furthermore, we argue that the field has sufficient tools to begin “secondary prevention” trials in asymptomatic individuals whoare at high risk for progression to cognitive impairment and AD dementia.
Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are commonly used to treat patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. Hippocampal atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging and amyloid-β load on positron emission tomography are associated with the Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. To date, few studies have investigated imaging markers that predict treatment response in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. Our objective was to determine whether imaging markers of Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology such as hippocampal volume, brain amyloid-β load on 11C Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography predict treatment response to acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. We performed a retrospective analysis on consecutive treatment-naive patients with dementia with Lewy bodies (n = 54) from the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre who subsequently received acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and underwent magnetic resonance imaging with hippocampal volumetry. Baseline and follow-up assessments were obtained with the Mattis Dementia Rating Scale. Subjects were divided into three groups (reliable improvement, stable or reliable decline) using Dementia Rating Scale reliable change indices determined previously. Associations between hippocampal volumes and treatment response were tested with analysis of covariance adjusting for baseline Dementia Rating Scale, age, gender, magnetic resonance field strength and Dementia Rating Scale interval. Seven subjects underwent 11C Pittsburgh compound B imaging within 12 weeks of magnetic resonance imaging. Global cortical 11C Pittsburgh compound B retention (scaled to cerebellar retention) was calculated in these patients. Using a conservative psychometric method of assessing treatment response, there were 12 patients with reliable decline, 29 stable cases and 13 patients with reliable improvement. The improvers had significantly larger hippocampi than those that declined (P = 0.02) and the stable (P = 0.04) group. An exploratory analysis demonstrated larger grey matter volumes in the temporal and parietal lobes in improvers compared with those who declined (P < 0.05). The two patients who had a positive 11C Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography scan declined and those who had a negative 11C Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography scan improved or were stable after treatment. Patients with dementia with Lewy bodies who do not have the imaging features of coexistent Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology are more likely to cognitively improve with acetylcholinesterase inhibitor treatment.
dementia with Lewy bodies; acetylcholinesterase inhibitors; MRI; PiB; PET; amyloid
The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI)
recently added diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), among several other new imaging
modalities, in an effort to identify sensitive biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease
(AD). While anatomical MRI is the main structural neuroimaging method used in
most AD studies and clinical trials, DTI is sensitive to microscopic white
matter (WM) changes not detectable with standard MRI, offering additional
markers of neurodegeneration. Prior DTI studies of AD report lower fractional
anisotropy (FA), and increased mean, axial, and radial diffusivity (MD, AxD, RD)
throughout WM. Here we assessed which DTI measures may best identify differences
among AD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and cognitively healthy elderly
control (NC) groups, in region of interest (ROI) and voxel-based analyses of 155
ADNI participants (mean age: 73.5 ± 7.4; 90
M/65 F; 44 NC, 88 MCI, 23 AD). Both VBA and ROI analyses
revealed widespread group differences in FA and all diffusivity measures. DTI
maps were strongly correlated with widely-used clinical ratings (MMSE, CDR-sob,
and ADAS-cog). When effect sizes were ranked, FA analyses were least sensitive
for picking up group differences. Diffusivity measures could detect more subtle
MCI differences, where FA could not. ROIs showing strongest group
differentiation (lowest p-values) included tracts that
pass through the temporal lobe, and posterior brain regions. The left
hippocampal component of the cingulum showed consistently high effect sizes for
distinguishing groups, across all diffusivity and anisotropy measures, and in
correlations with cognitive scores.
•DTI scans in ADNI2 provide numerous biomarkers of
Alzheimer's disease.•FA, MD, AxD, and RD measures all detect MCI and AD
white matter deficits.•DTI FA and diffusivity measures are correlated with
clinical cognitive scores.•FA is the least sensitive DTI measure for detecting
AD related differences.•WM in the temporal lobe, corpus callosum and
cingulum is repeatedly implicated.
NC, normal control; RD, radial diffusivity; AxD, axial diffusivity; ADNI, Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative; DTI; Alzheimer's disease; MCI; White matter; Clinical scores; Biomarkers
Measuring rates of brain atrophy from serial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies is an attractive way to assess disease progression in neurodegenerative disorders, particularly Alzheimer's disease (AD). A widely recognized approach is the boundary shift integral (BSI). The objective of this study was to evaluate how several common scan non-idealities affect the output of the BSI algorithm. We created three types of image non-idealities between the image volumes in a serial pair used to measure between-scan change: inconsistent image contrast between serial scans, head motion, and poor signal-to-noise (SNR). In theory the BSI volume difference measured between each pair of images should be zero and any deviation from zero should represent corruption of the BSI measurement by some non-ideality intentionally introduced into the second scan in the pair. As the severity of motion, noise and non-congruent image contrast increases in the second scan, the calculated brain BSI values deviate progressively more from the expected value of zero. This study illustrates the magnitude of the error in measures of change in brain volume across serial MRI scans that can result from commonly encountered deviations from ideal image quality. The magnitudes of some of the measurement errors seen in this study significantly exceed the disease effect in AD. For example, measurement error may exceed 30% if image contrast properties differ between the two scans in a measurement pair. Methods to maximize consistency of image quality over time are an essential component of any quantitative serial MRI study.
MRI; image processing; image artifacts; Alzheimer's disease
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), particularly the amnestic subtype (aMCI), is considered as a transitional stage between normal aging and a diagnosis of clinically probable Alzheimer's disease (AD). The aMCI construct is particularly useful as it provides an opportunity to assess a clinical stage which in most subjects represents prodromal AD. The aim of this study was to assess the progression of cerebral atrophy over multiple serial MRI during the period from aMCI to conversion to AD. Thirty-three subjects were selected that fulfilled clinical criteria for aMCI and had three serial MRI scans: the first scan approximately three years before conversion to AD, the second scan approximately one year before conversion, and the third scan at the time of conversion from aMCI to AD. A group of 33 healthy controls were age and gender-matched to the study cohort. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was used to assess patterns of grey matter atrophy in the aMCI subjects at each time-point compared to the control group. Customized templates and prior probability maps were used to avoid normalization and segmentation bias. The pattern of grey matter loss in the aMCI subject scans that were three years before conversion was focused primarily on the medial temporal lobes, including the amygdala, anterior hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, with some additional involvement of the fusiform gyrus, compared to controls. The extent and magnitude of the cerebral atrophy further progressed by the time the subjects were one year before conversion. At this point atrophy in the temporal lobes spread to include the middle temporal gyrus, and extended into more posterior regions of the temporal lobe to include the entire extent of the hippocampus. The parietal lobe also started to become involved. By the time the subjects had converted to a clinical diagnosis of AD the pattern of grey matter atrophy had become still more widespread with more severe involvement of the medial temporal lobes and the temporoparietal association cortices and, for the first time, substantial involvement of the frontal lobes. This pattern of progression fits well with the Braak and Braak neurofibrillary pathological staging scheme in AD. It suggests that the earliest changes occur in the anterior medial temporal lobe and fusiform gyrus, and that these changes occur at least three years before conversion to AD. These results also suggest that 3-dimensional patterns of grey matter atrophy may help to predict the time to conversion in subjects with aMCI.
Alzheimer's disease; mild cognitive impairment; longitudinal; magnetic resonance imaging; voxel-based morphometry
Neuroanatomic substrates of specific cognitive functions have been inferred from anatomic distributions of activated pixels during fMRI studies. With declarative memory tasks, interest has focused on the extent to which various medial temporal lobe anatomic structures are activated while subjects encode new information. The aim of this project was to examine how commonly used variations in fMRI data processing methods affect the distribution of activation in anatomically defined medial temporal lobe regions of interest (ROIs) during a complex scene-encoding task. ROIs were drawn on an MRI anatomic template formed from 3d-SPGR scans of 8 subjects combined in Talairach space. Separate ROIs were drawn for the posterior and anterior hippocampal formation, parahippocampal gyrus, and entorhinal cortex. Twelve different activation maps were created for each subject by using four correlation coefficients and three cluster volumes. Friedman’s two-way ANOVA by ranks was used to test the hypothesis that the distribution of activated pixels among defined anatomic ROIs varied as a function of the data processing method.
By simply varying the combination of correlation-coefficient and cluster volume, significantly different distributions of activation within named medial temporal lobe structures were obtained from the same fMRI datasets (p<0.015; p<0.001). The number of subjects studied (n=8) is in a range commonly found in the literature yet this clearly resulted in spurious associations between processing parameter variations and activation distribution. Using data processing methods that are independent of the arbitrary selection of cutoff values for thresholding activation maps may reduce the likelihood of obtaining spurious results.
Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) is a popular method for probing inter-group differences in brain morphology. Variation in the detailed implementation of the algorithm, however, will affect the apparent results of VBM analyses and in turn the inferences drawn about the anatomic expression of specific disease states. We qualitatively assessed group comparisons of 43 normal elderly control subjects and 51 patients with probable Alzheimer's disease, using five different VBM variations. Based on the known pathologic expression of the disease, we evaluated the biological plausibility of each. The use of a custom template and custom tissue class prior probability images (priors) produced inter-group comparison maps with greater biological plausibility than the use of the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) template and priors. We present a method for initializing the normalization to a custom template, and conclude that, when incorporated into the VBM processing chain, it yields the most biologically plausible inter-group differences of the five methods presented.