The definitive Alzheimer's disease (AD) diagnosis requires postmortem confirmation of neuropathological hallmarks - amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). The advent of radiotracers for amyloid imaging presents an opportunity to investigate amyloid deposition in vivo. The 11C-Pittsburgh compound-B (PiB)-PET ligand remains the most widely studied to date; however, regional variations in 11C-PiB binding and the extent of agreement with neuropathological assessment have not been thoroughly investigated. Sojkova and colleagues  reported variable agreement between CERAD-based neuropathologic diagnosis of AD lesions and mean cortical PiB, suggesting the need for a more direct quantification of regional Aβ in relation to in vivo imaging. In the present study, we extend these findings by examining the correspondence among regional 11C-PiB load, region-matched quantitative immunohistological assessments of Aβ and NFTs, and brain atrophy (MRI) in six older Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging participants who came to autopsy (imaging-autopsy interval range 0.2-2.4 years). The total number of Aβ plaques (6E10) and NFTs (PHF1) in paraffin sections from hippocampus, orbito-frontal cortex, anterior and posterior cingulate gyrus, precuneus and cerebellum was quantified using a technique guided by unbiased stereological principles. We report a general agreement between the regional measures of amyloid obtained via stereological assessment and imaging, with significant relationships evident for the anterior (r = 0.83; p = 0.04) and posterior (r = 0.94; p = 0.005) cingulate gyri, and the precuneus (r = 0.94; p = 0.005). No associations were observed between 11C-PiB load and NFT count for any of the regions examined (p > 0.2 in all regions), or between regional Aβ or NFT counts and corresponding brain volumes. The strong associations of PiB retention with region-matched, quantitative analyses of Aβ in postmortem tissue offer support for the validity of 11C-PiB-PET imaging as a method for evaluation of plaque burden in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience