Correlation between amyloid burden and memory impairment

A11C-PIB PET cross sectional study

S. Ng, V. L. Villemagne, K. Pike, G. Savage, W. Browne, G. O'Keefe, H. Tochon-Danguy, G. Chan, C. L. Masters, Christopher C. Rowe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) carries a high risk of conversion to Alzheimer's disease (AD). The relationship between brain beta-amyloid (Aβ) burden and cognitive function has not been explored in subjects with MCI. We examined this relationship using in-vivo amyloid-imaging tracer 11C-PIB. Methods: 32 healthy controls (HC) (age 71 ± 7; MMSE >28), 35 MCI subjects (age 71 ± 9; MMSE 26.8 ± 2) and 40 subjects with mild to moderate AD (age 74 ± 10; MMSE 21.7 ± 4) underwent 11C-PIB PET. All subjects underwent MMSE and California Verbal Learning Test II (CVLT II). Aβ burden was quantified using Standardized Uptake Value normalized to cerebellar cortex (SUVR) 40-70 post-injection. The neocortical SUVR was used for analysis. Results: Neocortical SUVR was 1.40 ± 0.33 in HC, 1.84 ± 0.59 in MCI and 2.42 ± 0.33 in AD and correlated negatively across all subjects with MMSE (r = -0.56, P < 0.001). When groups were analysed separately, only the MCI cohort showed a correlation with cognition (MMSE: r = -0.33, P < 0.05; CVLT: r = -0.53, P < 0.001). Cognitive performance did not correlate with level of PIB retention in other groups. At a SUVR threshold of 1.6 (the 75th percentile of HC), cortical PIB binding was present in 100% of AD, 60% of MCI and 23% of HC. In MCI, but not in HC, PIB positive subjects performed worse than PIB negative subjects on cognitive performance (CVLT II-long delay: 3.60 ± 4.51 vs. 7.21 ± 4.35; p = 0.026). Correlation between Aβ and memory impairment in MCI persisted after excluding the PIB negative subjects (CVLT r = -0.49, P < 0.01). Conclusions: Our data supports a pathogenic role for Aβ accumulation in AD by showing a relationship to mild cognitive impairment. This relationship is lost in later stages of disease as dementia develops suggesting a maximum or equilibrium level of Aβ plaque can be reached early in the pathological course of AD. These findings may have implications for anti-amyloid therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalANZ Nuclear Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

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