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Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2017 Jun;17(6):951-958. doi: 10.1111/ggi.12818. Epub 2016 May 23.

Cholinergic enhancement increases regional cerebral blood flow to the posterior cingulate cortex in mild Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Neurology, Fukujuji Hospital, Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association, Tokyo, Japan.
Division of Nuclear Medicine, Department of Radiology School of Medicine, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan.
Division of Nuclear Medicine, National Center for Global health and Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.



The brain region that shows reductions in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) earliest is the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), which is thought to have a relationship with cognitive function. We made a hypothesis that the PCC hypoperfusion is a result of cholinergic dysfunction and can be restored by cholinergic enhancement. This present longitudinal study aimed to detect the restoration of PCC rCBF in response to donepezil, an acetylcholine esterase inhibitor.


We evaluated rCBF changes in the PCC, precuneus and anterior cingulate cortex using perfusion single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), statistical analysis and region of interest analysis, prospectively. We allocated 36 patients with mild AD to either the responder or non-responder groups based on changes in Mini-Mental State Examination scores. The patients were followed up for 18 months.


The PCC rCBF significantly increased in responders after 6 months of donepezil therapy. Statistical maps at baseline showed a typical decreased pattern of mild AD and obvious rCBF restoration in the bilateral PCC at 6 months in responders. Changes in Mini-Mental State Examination scores and the AD assessment scale cognitive scores significantly correlated with rCBF changes in the PCC of responders.


Cholinergic enhancement restored PCC rCBF under the three conditions of mild AD, responders and short follow-up interval, and that increase correlated with improved cognitive function. These findings support our hypothesis that PCC rCBF reflects cholinergic function in AD patients. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2017; 17: 951-958.


Alzheimer's disease; N-isopropyl-p-[123I] iodoamphetamine; donepezil; mild cognitive impairment; posterior cingulate cortex

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