Alzheimer's Brain Changes Studied
The University of California-San Diego researchers said their method of quantifying sub-regional brain volume loss using magnetic resonance imaging promises to improve diagnosis and monitoring of Alzheimer's disease.
By applying the techniques to the newly completed dataset of the multi institution Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, the researchers said they demonstrated such sub-regional brain volume measurements outperform available measures for tracking the severity of Alzheimer's disease.
Professor Anders Dale, who led the study, said the general pattern of brain atrophy resulting from Alzheimer's disease has long been known, but exploiting that knowledge toward accurate diagnosis and monitoring of the disease has only recently been made possible. He said the study's new methods provide rapid identification of brain sub-regions combined with measures of change in the regions across time.
"Loss of volume in the hippocampus is a consistent finding when using MRI, and is a reliable predictor of cognitive decline," Dale said. "However, we have now developed and validated imaging biomarkers to not only track brain atrophy, but distinguish the early stages of Alzheimer's disease from changes related to normal aging."
The study that included co-author Dr. James Brewer appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.