Alzheimer-signature MRI biomarker predicts AD dementia in cognitively normal adults

B. C. Dickerson, T. R. Stoub, R. C. Shah, R. A. Sperling, R. J. Killiany, M. S. Albert, B. T. Hyman, D. Blacker, L. Detoledo-Morrell

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:: Since Alzheimer disease (AD) neuropathology is thought to develop years before dementia, it may be possible to detect subtle AD-related atrophy in preclinical AD. Here we hypothesized that the "disease signature" of AD-related cortical thinning, previously identified in patients with mild AD dementia, would be useful as a biomarker to detect anatomic abnormalities consistent with AD in cognitively normal (CN) adults who develop AD dementia after longitudinal follow-up. Methods: We studied 2 independent samples of adults who were CN when scanned. In sample 1, 8 individuals developing AD dementia (CN-AD converters) after an average of 11.1 years were compared to 25 individuals who remained CN (CN-stable). In sample 2, 7 CN-AD converters (average follow-up 7.1 years) were compared to 25 CN-stable individuals. Results: AD-signature cortical thinning in CN-AD converters in both samples was remarkably similar, about 0.2 mm (p < 0.05). Despite this small absolute difference, Cohen d effect sizes for these differences were very large (>1). Of the 11 CN individuals with baseline low AD-signature thickness (1 SD below cohort mean), 55% developed AD dementia over nearly the next decade, while none of the 9 high AD-signature thickness individuals (1 SD above mean) developed dementia. This marker predicted time to diagnosis of dementia (hazard ratio = 3.4, p < 0.0005); 1 SD of thinning increased dementia risk by 3.4. Conclusions: By focusing on cortical regions known to be affected in AD dementia, subtle but reliable atrophy is identifiable in asymptomatic individuals nearly a decade before dementia, making this measure a potentially important imaging biomarker of early neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1395-1402
Number of pages8
JournalNeurology
Volume76
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 19 2011

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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Dickerson, B. C., Stoub, T. R., Shah, R. C., Sperling, R. A., Killiany, R. J., Albert, M. S., Hyman, B. T., Blacker, D., & Detoledo-Morrell, L. (2011). Alzheimer-signature MRI biomarker predicts AD dementia in cognitively normal adults. Neurology, 76(16), 1395-1402. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182166e96