Early detection of Alzheimer's disease using neuroimaging
Neuroimaging is being increasingly used to complement clinical assessments in the early detection of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and metabolic positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) are the most clinically used and promising modalities to detect brain abnormalities in individuals who might be at risk for AD but who have not yet developed symptoms. The knowledge of established risk factors for AD enabled investigators to develop enrichment strategies for longitudinal imaging studies to reduce the sample sizes and study duration. The present review focuses on the results obtained by MRI and FDG-PET studies that examined the preclinical AD stages in several at risk populations: (1) individuals from families with autosomal dominant early-onset AD (FAD), (2) patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), particularly in memory, who are at very high risk for declining to AD with an estimated decline rate of 10-30% per year, (3) normal young and middle-age subjects carriers of known susceptibility genes for late-onset AD such as the Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) E4 allele, and (4) as age is the main risk factor for AD, normal elderly individuals followed to the onset of MCI and AD. Overall, these studies show that the use of imaging for the early detection of AD is successful even in the earlier stages of disease when clinical symptoms are not fully expressed and the regional brain damage may be limited. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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