A combination of diagnostic tests, including imaging and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers can improve prediction of conversion from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology.
"Because new treatments are likely to be most effective at the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease, there is great urgency to develop sensitive markers that facilitate detection and monitoring of early brain changes in individuals at risk," said Jeffrey R. Petrella, M.D., associate professor of radiology, division of neuroradiology, and director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Lab at Duke University Medical Center (DUMC) in Durham, N.C. "Our study looks at whether more sophisticated diagnostic tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and spinal fluid protein analysis might provide additional prognostic information, compared to more readily available cognitive and blood testing."
According to the World Health Organization, more than 35 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer's disease, which is incurable, and the prevalence is expected to double by 2030.
"Although there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, there are four symptomatic treatments that might provide some benefits," said coauthor P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D., professor of psychiatry at DUMC. "So developing the right combination of diagnostic tests is critical to make sure we enable an accurate and early diagnosis in patients, so they can evaluate their care options."
The Duke study looked at 97 patients with MCI from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a national multicenter biomarker study in which patients are followed serially to track disease progression. The researchers analyzed baseline MRI and FDG-PET results, as well as cerebrospinal fluid proteins and compared these to cognitive outcomes at two to three years.