We aimed to investigate the accuracy of FDG-PET to detect the Alzheimer's disease (AD) brain glucose hypometabolic pattern in 142 patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and 109 healthy controls. aMCI patients were followed for at least two years or until conversion to dementia. Images were evaluated by means of visual read by either moderately-skilled or expert readers, and by means of a summary metric of AD-like hypometabolism (PALZ score). Seventy-seven patients converted to AD-dementia after 28.6 ± 19.3 months of follow-up. Expert reading was the most accurate tool to detect these MCI converters from healthy controls (sensitivity 89.6%, specificity 89.0%, accuracy 89.2%) while two moderately-skilled readers were less (p < 0.05) specific (sensitivity 85.7%, specificity 79.8%, accuracy 82.3%) and PALZ score was less (p < 0.001) sensitive (sensitivity 62.3%, specificity 91.7%, accuracy 79.6%). Among the remaining 67 aMCI patients, 50 were confirmed as aMCI after an average of 42.3 months, 12 developed other dementia, and 3 reverted to normalcy. In 30/50 persistent MCI patients, the expert recognized the AD hypometabolic pattern. In 13/50 aMCI, both the expert and PALZ score were negative while in 7/50, only the PALZ score was positive due to sparse hypometabolic clusters mainly in frontal lobes. Visual FDG-PET reads by an expert is the most accurate method but an automated, validated system may be particularly helpful to moderately-skilled readers because of high specificity, and should be mandatory when even a moderately-skilled reader is unavailable.
We evaluated the brain metabolic correlates of main indexes of a widely used word list learning test, the Rey Auditory Verbal Memory Test (RAVLT), in a group of elderly subjects with memory complaints. Fifty-four subjects (age: 72.02 ± 7.45; Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score: 28.9 ± 1.24) presenting at a memory clinic complaining of memory deficit, but not demented, and thirty controls (age: 71.87 ± 7.08; MMSE score: 29.1 ± 1.1) were included. Subjects with memory complaints included both patients with (amnestic mild cognitive impairment, aMCI) and without (subjective memory complaints, SMC) impairment on memory tests. All subjects underwent 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET), analyzed with statistical parametric. Patients with aMCI but not those with SMC showed the expected posterior cingulate-precuneus and parietal hypometabolism as compared to controls. Correlation was determined for between four indexes of the RAVLT and brain metabolism. The results show a significant correlation between the delayed recall score and metabolism in posterior cingulate gyrus of both hemispheres and in left precuneus, as well as between a score of long-term percent retention and metabolism in left posterior cingulate gyrus, precuneus, and orbitofrontal areas. These correlations survived correction for age, education, and MMSE score. No correlation was found between immediate or total recall scores and glucose metabolism. These data show the relevant role of posterior cingulate-precuneus and orbitofrontal cortices in retention and retrieval of de-contextualized verbal memory material in a group of elderly subjects with memory complaints and shed light on the topography of synaptic dysfunction in these subjects, overlapping that found in the earliest stages of Alzheimer-type neurodegeneration.
Increasing evidence has shown that morphological and functional neuroimaging may help to understand the pathophysiological mechanisms leading to behavioral disturbances in patients with genetic or sporadic frontotemporal dementia (FTD). The C9orf72 expansion was found in association with the N267S TARDBP mutation in two siblings with behavioral-variant FTD (bvFTD). In one of them with very mild dementia, MRI showed symmetric atrophy of temporal, inferolateral and orbital frontal cortex, while [18F]FDG-PET disclosed more extended hypometabolism in dorsolateral and inferolateral frontal cortex, anterior cingulate, and caudate nucleus. Hypometabolism in right lateral and orbital frontal cortex was confirmed also in comparison with a group of sporadic bvFTD patients. These findings appear as the neuroimaging hallmark of double C9orf72 and TARDBP gene mutation with a bvFTD phenotype.
Large-scale longitudinal neuroimaging studies with diffusion imaging techniques are necessary to test and validate models of white matter neurophysiological processes that change in time, both in healthy and diseased brains. The predictive power of such longitudinal models will always be limited by the reproducibility of repeated measures acquired during different sessions. At present, there is limited quantitative knowledge about the across-session reproducibility of standard diffusion metrics in 3T multi-centric studies on subjects in stable conditions, in particular when using tract based spatial statistics and with elderly people. In this study we implemented a multi-site brain diffusion protocol in 10 clinical 3T MRI sites distributed across 4 countries in Europe (Italy, Germany, France and Greece) using vendor provided sequences from Siemens (Allegra, Trio Tim, Verio, Skyra, Biograph mMR), Philips (Achieva) and GE (HDxt) scanners. We acquired DTI data (2 × 2 × 2 mm(3), b = 700 s/mm(2), 5 b0 and 30 diffusion weighted volumes) of a group of healthy stable elderly subjects (5 subjects per site) in two separate sessions at least a week apart. For each subject and session four scalar diffusion metrics were considered: fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD) and axial (AD) diffusivity. The diffusion metrics from multiple subjects and sessions at each site were aligned to their common white matter skeleton using tract-based spatial statistics. The reproducibility at each MRI site was examined by looking at group averages of absolute changes relative to the mean (%) on various parameters: i) reproducibility of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the b0 images in centrum semiovale, ii) full brain test-retest differences of the diffusion metric maps on the white matter skeleton, iii) reproducibility of the diffusion metrics on atlas-based white matter ROIs on the white matter skeleton. Despite the differences of MRI scanner configurations across sites (vendors, models, RF coils and acquisition sequences) we found good and consistent test-retest reproducibility. White matter b0 SNR reproducibility was on average 7 ± 1% with no significant MRI site effects. Whole brain analysis resulted in no significant test-retest differences at any of the sites with any of the DTI metrics. The atlas-based ROI analysis showed that the mean reproducibility errors largely remained in the 2-4% range for FA and AD and 2-6% for MD and RD, averaged across ROIs. Our results show reproducibility values comparable to those reported in studies using a smaller number of MRI scanners, slightly different DTI protocols and mostly younger populations. We therefore show that the acquisition and analysis protocols used are appropriate for multi-site experimental scenarios.
The role of oxidative stress is increasingly recognized in cognitive disorders of the elderly, notably Alzheimers disease (AD). In these subjects brain(18)F-FDG PET is regarded as a reliable biomarker of neurodegeneration. We hypothesized that oxidative stress could play a role in impairing brain glucose utilization in elderly subjects with increasing severity of cognitive disturbance.
Cross-sectional imaging is being increasingly proposed as a suitable tool to characterize carotid plaques. The aim of this work was to correlate the Doppler velocity parameters with the cross-sectional percent stenosis (CPoS) of internal carotid artery (ICA) and to identify the cutoff values of these parameters in five progressive classes of stenosis area severity (ie, 40%-49%, 50%-59%, 60%-69%, 70%-79%, 80%-90%).
Subtle cognitive impairment can be detected in early Parkinsons disease (PD). In a consecutive series of de novo, drug-naive PD patients, we applied stepwise regression analysis to assess which clinical, neuropsychological, and functional neuroimaging (dopamine transporter [DAT] and perfusion single photon emission computed tomography [SPECT]) characteristics at baseline was predictive of cognitive decline during an average follow-up time of about 4 years. Decline both in executive (R(2) = 0.54; p = 0.0001) and visuospatial (R(2) = 0.56; p = 0.0001) functions was predicted by the couple of Unified Parkinsons Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS)-III score and caudate dopamine transporter (DAT) uptake in the less affected hemisphere (LAH). Verbal memory and language decline was predicted instead by caudate DAT uptake and brain perfusion in a posterior parieto-temporal area of the less affected hemisphere (R(2) = 0.42; p = 0.0005). No significant effect was shown for age, baseline neuropsychological scores, and levodopa equivalent dose at follow-up. The combined use of clinical structured examination and brain functional assessment by means of dual single photon emission computed tomography imaging appears as a powerful approach to predict cognitive decline in de novo PD patients.
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