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Neurology. 2013 Feb 12;80(7):648-54. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318281ccd3. Epub 2013 Jan 9.

Cerebral atrophy in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease: rates and acceleration.

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  • 1Dementia Research Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To quantify the regional and global cerebral atrophy rates and assess acceleration rates in healthy controls, subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and subjects with mild Alzheimer disease (AD).

METHODS:

Using 0-, 6-, 12-, 18-, 24-, and 36-month MRI scans of controls and subjects with MCI and AD from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database, we calculated volume change of whole brain, hippocampus, and ventricles between all pairs of scans using the boundary shift integral.

RESULTS:

We found no evidence of acceleration in whole-brain atrophy rates in any group. There was evidence that hippocampal atrophy rates in MCI subjects accelerate by 0.22%/year2 on average (p = 0.037). There was evidence of acceleration in rates of ventricular enlargement in subjects with MCI (p = 0.001) and AD (p < 0.001), with rates estimated to increase by 0.27 mL/year2 (95% confidence interval 0.12, 0.43) and 0.88 mL/year2 (95% confidence interval 0.47, 1.29), respectively. A post hoc analysis suggested that the acceleration of hippocampal loss in MCI subjects was mainly driven by the MCI subjects that were observed to progress to clinical AD within 3 years of baseline, with this group showing hippocampal atrophy rate acceleration of 0.50%/year2 (p = 0.003).

CONCLUSIONS:

The small acceleration rates suggest a long period of transition to the pathologic losses seen in clinical AD. The acceleration in hippocampal atrophy rates in MCI subjects in the ADNI seems to be driven by those MCI subjects who concurrently progressed to a clinical diagnosis of AD.

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