Limbic system perfusion in Alzheimer's disease measured by MRI-coregistered HMPAO SPET
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The goal of this study was to perform a systematic, semi-quantitative analysis of limbic perfusion in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) using coregistered single-photon emission tomography (SPET) images aligned to magnetic resonance (MR) images. Limbic perfusion in 40 patients with mild to moderate AD was compared with that of 17 age-, sex-, and education-matched normal controls (NC). HMPAO SPET scans and 3D T1-weighted MR images were acquired for each subject. Structures of the limbic system (i.e. hippocampus, amygdala, anterior thalamus, hypothalamus, mamillary bodies, basal forebrain, septal area and cingulate, orbitofrontal and parahippocampal cortices) were traced on the MR images and transferred to the coregistered SPET scans. Perfusion ratios for all limbic regions were calculated relative to cerebellar perfusion. General linear model multivariate analysis revealed that, overall, limbic structures showed significant hypoperfusion (F=7.802, P<0.00001, eta (2)=0.695 ) in AD patients compared with NC. Greatest differences (d > or = 0.8) were found in the hippocampus, as well as all areas of the cingulate cortex. Significant relative hypoperfusion was also apparent in the parahippocampal cortex, amygdala/entorhinal cortex, septal area and anterior thalamus, all of which showed medium to large effect sizes (d=0.6-0.8). No significant relative perfusion differences were detected in the basal forebrain, hypothalamus, mamillary bodies or orbitofrontal cortex. Logistic regression indicated that posterior cingulate cortex perfusion was able to discriminate AD patients from NC with 93% accuracy (95% sensitivity, 88% specificity). The current results suggest that most, but not all, limbic structures show significant relative hypoperfusion in AD. These findings validate previous post-mortem studies and could be useful in improving diagnostic accuracy, monitoring disease progression and evaluating potential treatment strategies in AD.
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