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Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2014 Apr;41(4):764-75. doi: 10.1007/s00259-013-2638-x. Epub 2013 Dec 3.

Plasma antioxidants and brain glucose metabolism in elderly subjects with cognitive complaints.

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Clinical Neurology, Department of Neuroscience (DINOGMI), University of Genoa and IRCCS San Martino-IST, Largo P. Daneo, 3, 16132, Genoa, Italy.



The role of oxidative stress is increasingly recognized in cognitive disorders of the elderly, notably Alzheimer's disease (AD). In these subjects brain(18)F-FDG PET is regarded as a reliable biomarker of neurodegeneration. We hypothesized that oxidative stress could play a role in impairing brain glucose utilization in elderly subjects with increasing severity of cognitive disturbance.


The study group comprised 85 subjects with cognitive disturbance of increasing degrees of severity including 23 subjects with subjective cognitive impairment (SCI), 28 patients with mild cognitive impairment and 34 patients with mild AD. In all subjects brain FDG PET was performed and plasma activities of extracellular superoxide dismutase (eSOD), catalase and glutathione peroxidase were measured. Voxel-based analysis (SPM8) was used to compare FDG PET between groups and to evaluate correlations between plasma antioxidants and glucose metabolism in the whole group of subjects, correcting for age and Mini-Mental State Examination score.


Brain glucose metabolism progressively decreased in the bilateral posterior temporoparietal and cingulate cortices across the three groups, from SCI to mild AD. eSOD activity was positively correlated with glucose metabolism in a large area of the left temporal lobe including the superior, middle and inferior temporal gyri and the fusiform gyrus.


These results suggest a role of oxidative stress in the impairment of glucose utilization in the left temporal lobe structures in elderly patients with cognitive abnormalities, including AD and conditions predisposing to AD. Further studies exploring the oxidative stress-energy metabolism axis are considered worthwhile in larger groups of these patients in order to identify pivotal pathophysiological mechanisms and innovative therapeutic opportunities.

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