News | April 06, 2011

MRI May Help Predict Alzheimer's

April 6, 2011 – Using MRI, researchers may be able to predict which adults with mild cognitive impairment are more likely to progress to Alzheimer’s disease. The finding comes from a study published online and in the June issue of Radiology.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between the decline in mental abilities that occurs in normal aging and the more pronounced deterioration associated with dementia, a group of brain disorders that includes Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Individuals with MCI develop AD at a rate of 15 to 20 percent per year, which is significantly higher than the one to two percent rate for the general population. Some people with MCI remain stable while others gradually decline and some quickly deteriorate.

“Being able to better predict which individuals with MCI are at greatest risk for developing Alzheimer’s would provide critical information if disease-modifying therapies become available,” said the study’s lead author, Linda K. McEvoy, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of radiology at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

McEvoy and a team of researchers analyzed MRI exams from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a large publicly and privately sponsored study. The study performed imaging and other tests on hundreds of healthy individuals and others with MCI and early AD between 2005 and 2010 in hopes of identifying valuable biomarkers of the disease process.

Included in the study were a baseline MRI exam, serving as an initial point of measurement, and a second MRI performed a year later on 203 healthy adults, 317 patients with MCI and 164 patients with late-onset AD. The average age of the study participants was 75.

Using MRI, the researchers measured the thickness of the cerebral cortex, the outermost layer of the cerebral hemispheres of the brain that plays a key role in memory, attention, thought and language. They then observed the pattern of thinning to compute a risk score. One of the characteristics of AD is a loss of brain cells, called atrophy, in specific areas of the cortex.

“MRI is very sensitive to brain atrophy,” McEvoy said. “There’s a pattern of cortical thinning associated with AD that indicates the patient is more likely to progress to AD.”

Using the baseline MRI, the researchers calculated that the patients with MCI had a one-year risk of conversion to AD ranging from three to 40 percent.

“Compared to estimating a patient’s risk of conversion based on a clinical diagnosis only, MRI provides substantially more informative, patient-specific risk estimates,” McEvoy said. “The baseline MRI helped identify which patients were at very low risk of progressing to Alzheimer’s and those whose risk was doubled.”

By combining results of the baseline MRI and the MRI exam performed one year later, the researchers were able to calculate a rate of change in brain atrophy that was even more informative. The MCI patients’ risk of disease progression based on the serial MR exams ranged from 3 to 69 percent.

“Rapid thinning of the cortex is reflective of a degenerative disorder,” McEvoy explained.

Although no treatments currently exist that slow or prevent the neurodegeneration associated with AD, McEvoy said patients at high risk of progressing to AD might want to enroll in clinical trials of disease-modifying therapies. She said the information would also help ensure patients receive optimal care and allow families more time for planning.

For more information: www.rsna.org

Related Content

NIH Study of Brain Energy Patterns Provides New Insights into Alcohol Effects

NIH scientists present a new method for combining measures of brain activity (left) and glucose consumption (right) to study regional specialization and to better understand the effects of alcohol on the human brain. Image courtesy of Ehsan Shokri-Kojori, Ph.D., of NIAAA.

News | Neuro Imaging | March 22, 2019
March 22, 2019 — Assessing the patterns of energy use and neuronal activity simultaneously in the human brain improve
At #ACC.19, Siemens unveiled a version of its go.Top platform optimized for cardiovascular imaging. The newly packaged scanner can generate the data needed to do CT-based FFR (fractional flow reserve).

At #ACC.19, Siemens unveiled a version of its go.Top platform optimized for cardiovascular imaging. The newly packaged scanner can generate the data needed to do CT-based FFR (fractional flow reserve). Photo by Greg Freiherr

Feature | Cardiac Imaging | March 22, 2019 | By Greg Freiherr
Reflecting a trend toward the increased use of...
Book Chapter Reports on Fonar Upright MRI for Hydrocephalus Imaging

Rotary misalignment of atlas (C1) and axis (C2). Image courtesy of Scott Rosa, DC, BCAO.

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | March 20, 2019
Fonar Corp. reported publication of a chapter where the physician-author-researchers utilized the Fonar Upright Multi-...
Older Biologic Age Linked to Elevated Breast Cancer Risk
News | Women's Health | March 19, 2019
Biologic age, a DNA-based estimate of a person’s age, is associated with future development of breast cancer, according...
HeartFlow Analysis Successfully Stratifies Heart Disease Patients at One Year
News | CT Angiography (CTA) | March 19, 2019
Late-breaking results confirm the HeartFlow FFRct (fractional flow reserve computed tomography) Analysis enables...
PET Scans Show Biomarkers Could Spare Some Breast Cancer Patients from Chemotherapy
News | PET Imaging | March 18, 2019
A new study positron emission tomography (PET) scans has identified a biomarker that may accurately predict which...
SyncVision iFR Co-registration from Philips Healthcare maps iFR pressure readings onto angiogram.

SyncVision iFR Co-registration from Philips Healthcare maps iFR pressure readings onto angiogram. Results from an international study presented at #ACC19 show that pressure readings in coronary arteries may identify locations of stenoses remaining after cardiac cath interventions.

Feature | Cardiac Imaging | March 18, 2019 | By Greg Freiherr
As many as one in four patients who undergo cath lab interventions can benefit from a technology that identifies the
Non-Contrast MRI Effective in Monitoring MS Patients
News | Neuro Imaging | March 18, 2019
Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) without contrast agent is just as effective as the contrast-enhanced approach...
Jennifer N. A. Silva, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, Mo., describes “mixed reality” at ACC19 Future Hub.

Jennifer N. A. Silva, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, Mo., describes “mixed reality” at ACC19 Future Hub.

Feature | Cardiac Imaging | March 17, 2019 | By Greg Freiherr
Virtual reality (VR) and its less immersive kin, augmented reality (AR), are gaining traction in some medical applica