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Neurology. 2009 Jan 6;72(1):56-62. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000338622.27876.0d.

Microglial activation and amyloid deposition in mild cognitive impairment: a PET study.

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Division of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, UK.



Activated microglia may play a role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease (AD) as they cluster around beta-amyloid (Abeta) plaques. They are, therefore, a potential therapeutic target in both AD and its prodrome amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI).


To characterize in vivo with (11)C-(R)-PK11195 and (11)C-PIB PET the distribution of microglial activation and amyloid deposition in patients with amnestic MCI.


Fourteen subjects with MCI had (11)C-(R)-PK11195 and (11)C-PIB PET with psychometric tests.


Seven out of 14 (50%) patients with MCI had increased cortical (11)C-PIB retention (p < 0.001) while 5 out of 13 (38%) subjects with MCI showed increased (11)C-(R)-PK11195 uptake. The MCI subgroup with increased (11)C-PIB retention also showed increased cortical (11)C-(R)-PK11195 binding (p < 0.036) though this increase only remained significant in frontal cortex after a correction for multiple comparisons. There was no correlation between regional levels of (11)C-(R)-PK11195 and (11)C-PIB binding in individual patients with MCI: only three of the five MCI cases with increased (11)C-(R)-PK11195 binding had increased levels of (11)C-PIB retention.


Our findings indicate that, while amyloid deposition and microglial activation can be detected in vivo in around 50% of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), these pathologies can occur independently. The detection of microglial activation in patients with MCI suggests that anti-inflammatory therapies may be relevant to the prevention of AD.

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