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Int J Alzheimers Dis. 2011 Apr 11;2011:483972. doi: 10.4061/2011/483972.

MRI shows more severe hippocampal atrophy and shape deformation in hippocampal sclerosis than in Alzheimer's disease.

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Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, University of Southern California, 7601 E Imperial Hwy., Medical Science Bldg., Room 26 Downey, CA 90242, USA.


While hippocampal atrophy is a key feature of both hippocampal sclerosis (HS) and Alzheimer's disease (AD), the pathology underlying this finding differs in these two conditions. In AD, atrophy is due primarily to loss of neurons and neuronal volume as a result of neurofibrillary tangle formation. While the etiology of HS is unknown, neuron loss in the hippocampus is severe to complete. We compared hippocampal volume and deformations from premortem MRI in 43 neuropathologically diagnosed cases of HS, AD, and normal controls (NC) selected from a longitudinal study of subcortical ischemic vascular disease (IVD Program Project). HS cases (n = 11) showed loss of neurons throughout the rostral-caudal extent of the hippocampus in one or both hemispheres. AD cases (n = 24) met NIA-Reagan criteria for high likelihood of AD. Normal control cases (n = 8) were cognitively intact and showed no significant AD or hippocampal pathology. The mean hippocampal volumes were significantly lower in HS versus AD groups (P < .001). Mean shape deformations in the CA1 and subiculum differed significantly between HS versus AD, HS versus NC, and AD versus NC (P < .0001). Additional study is needed to determine whether these differences will be meaningful for clinical diagnosis of individual cases.

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