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Neuroimage. 2012 Apr 2;60(2):1083-91. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.12.077. Epub 2012 Jan 8.

Changes in regional cerebral blood flow and functional connectivity in the cholinergic pathway associated with cognitive performance in subjects with mild Alzheimer's disease after 12-week donepezil treatment.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biophysics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA. wli@mcw.edu

Abstract

Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs), such as donepezil, have been shown to improve cognition in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. In this paper, our goal is to determine the relationship between altered cerebral blood flow (CBF) and intrinsic functional network connectivity changes in mild AD patients before and after 12-week donepezil treatment. An integrative neuroimaging approach was employed by combining pseudocontinuous arterial spin labeling (pCASL) MRI and resting-state functional MRI (R-fMRI) methods to determine the changes in CBF and functional connectivity (FC) in the cholinergic pathway. Linear regression analyses determined the correlations of the regional CBF alterations and functional connectivity changes with cognitive responses. These were measured with the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE) scores and Alzheimer's disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) scores. Our results show that the regional CBF in mild AD subjects after donepezil treatment was significantly increased in the middle cingulate cortex (MCC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), which are the neural substrates of the medial cholinergic pathway. In both brain regions, the baseline CBF and its changes after treatment were significantly correlated with the behavioral changes in ADAS-cog scores. The intrinsic FC was significantly enhanced in the medial cholinergic pathway network in the brain areas of the parahippocampal, temporal, parietal and prefrontal cortices. Finally, the FC changes in the medial prefrontal areas demonstrated an association with the CBF level in the MCC and the PCC, and also were correlated with ADAS-cog score changes. These findings indicate that regional CBF and FC network changes in the medial cholinergic pathway were associated with cognitive performance. It also is suggested that the combined pCASL-MRI and R-fMRI methods could be used to detect regional CBF and FC changes when using drug treatments in mild AD subjects.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22245641
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3324180
Free PMC Article

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