COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Conversion of mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer disease predicted by hippocampal atrophy maps

Liana G Apostolova, Rebecca A Dutton, Ivo D Dinov, Kiralee M Hayashi, Arthur W Toga, Jeffrey L Cummings, Paul M Thompson
Archives of Neurology 2006, 63 (5): 693-9
16682538

BACKGROUND: While most patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) transition to Alzheimer disease (AD), others develop non-AD dementia, remain in the MCI state, or improve.

OBJECTIVE: To test the following hypotheses: smaller hippocampal volumes predict conversion of MCI to AD, whereas larger hippocampal volumes predict cognitive stability and/or improvement; and patients with MCI who convert to AD have greater atrophy in the CA1 hippocampal subfield and subiculum.

DESIGN: Prospective longitudinal cohort study.

SETTING: University of California-Los Angeles Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

PATIENTS: We followed up 20 MCI subjects clinically and neuropsychologically for 3 years.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Baseline regional hippocampal atrophy was analyzed with region-of-interest and 3-dimensional hippocampal mapping techniques.

RESULTS: During the 3-year study, 6 patients developed AD (MCI-c), 7 remained stable (MCI-nc), and 7 improved (MCI-i). Patients with MCI-c had 9% smaller left and 13% smaller right mean hippocampal volumes compared with MCI-nc patients. Radial atrophy maps showed greater atrophy of the CA1 subregion in MCI-c. Patients with MCI-c had significantly smaller hippocampi than MCI-i patients (left, 24%; right, 27%). Volumetric analyses showed a trend for greater hippocampal atrophy in MCI-nc relative to MCI-i patients (eg, 16% volume loss). After permutation tests corrected for multiple comparison, the atrophy maps showed a significant difference on the right. Subicular differences were seen between MCI-c and MCI-i patients, and MCI-nc and MCI-i patients. Multiple linear regression analysis confirmed the group effect to be highly significant and independent of age, hemisphere, and Mini-Mental State Examination scores at baseline.

CONCLUSIONS: Smaller hippocampi and specifically CA1 and subicular involvement are associated with increased risk for conversion from MCI to AD. Patients with MCI-i tend to have larger hippocampal volumes and relative preservation of both the subiculum and CA1.

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