New PET imaging may help monitor Alzheimer’s disease

In a new study, researchers found that a positron emission tomography (PET) staging system of β-amyloid (Aβ) accumulation in the brain may help monitor patients throughout the course of Alzheimer disease.

The research was conducted by a team from Lund University in Sweden.

In the study, the team developed a longitudinally valid in vivo staging system for monitoring Alzheimer’s disease.

They use amyloid PET with data from 741 people, including 304 without cognitive impairment, 384 with mild cognitive impairment, and 53 with Alzheimer’s disease.

They used PET imaging data to determine the early, intermediate, and late regions of Aβ accumulation.

The researchers found that more than 98% of the 2,072 PET scans from 741 participants were unambiguously staged.

Participants with stage 0 had a 14.7% probability of progression to a higher stage and that 0.9% of the 741 patients reverted to a lower stage.

Even after adjustment for clinical diagnosis, higher stages were linked to lower β-amyloid concentrations, greater tau, and faster cognitive decline and atrophy.

These results were confirmed in the second group of 474 patients.

The team also found that the regions of different stages differed by gene expression profiles.

The study findings show that the Aβ PET staging system may be useful for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, drug development, and to study disease mechanisms.

The lead author of the study is Niklas Mattsson, M.D., Ph.D. from Lund University in Sweden.

The study is published in JAMA Neurology.

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