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Aging (Milano). 1993 Feb;5(1):19-26.

Cerebral blood flow in patients with dementia of Alzheimer's type.

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  • 1Institute of Internal Medicine and Metabolic Diseases, 2nd Medical School, University of Napoli, Italy.


In the normal brain as well as in Alzheimer's disease (AD), regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) is coupled to metabolic demand and, therefore, changes in CBF reflect variations in neuronal metabolism. The use of radionuclide techniques, such as positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), provides an accurate assessment of regional functional activity, i.e., CBF and metabolism, and could be very helpful for the differential diagnosis of AD. This disease is characterized by a decrease in global CBF and metabolism. When found, a symmetric bi-parieto-temporal CBF reduction is highly diagnostic for AD, despite the fact that a similar CBF pattern could also be observed in other types of dementia. Many AD patients with parieto-temporal flow reduction also have a diffuse flow reduction in the frontal cortical areas, particularly in advanced stages of the disease. Lateral CBF asymmetry is also very frequent; speech disorders are highly characteristic of left-sided flow reduction, while visuospatial apraxia is dominating in the right-sided cases. In advanced and severe cases of AD, CBF and metabolism tend to be more uniformly reduced throughout the cortex, sparing only the primary visual and sensory-motor cortices. PET and SPECT measurement of brain perfusion and metabolism has added a new dimension to the knowledge of dementia disorders, with a better differential diagnosis between AD and other forms of dementia. The correlation with neuropsychological data has also given new insight into the disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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