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Neurology. 2002 Mar 26;58(6):928-35.

Selective reduction of N-acetylaspartate in medial temporal and parietal lobes in AD.

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Magnetic Resonance Unit, DVA Medical Center San Francisco, CA 94121, USA.



Both AD and normal aging cause brain atrophy, limiting the ability of MRI to distinguish between AD and age-related brain tissue loss. MRS imaging (MRSI) measures the neuronal marker N-acetylaspartate (NAA), which could help assess brain change in AD and aging.


To determine the effects of AD on concentrations of NAA, and choline- and creatine-containing compounds in different brain regions and to assess the extent NAA in combination with volume measurements by MRI improves discrimination between AD patients and cognitively normal subjects.


Fifty-six patients with AD (mean age: 75.6 +/- 8.0 years) and 54 cognitively normal subjects (mean age: 74.3 +/- 8.1 years) were studied using MRSI and MRI.


NAA concentration was less in patients with AD compared with healthy subjects by 21% (p < 0.0001) in the medial temporal lobe and by 13% to 18% (p < 0.003) in parietal lobe gray matter (GM), but was not changed significantly in white matter and frontal lobe GM. In addition to lower NAA, AD patients had 29% smaller hippocampi and 11% less cortical GM than healthy subjects. Classification of AD and healthy subjects increased significantly from 89% accuracy using hippocampal volume alone to 95% accuracy using hippocampal volume and NAA together.


In addition to brain atrophy, NAA reductions occur in regions that are predominantly impacted by AD pathology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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