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Relationship between neuroimaging and cognition in frontotemporal dementia: An FDG-PET and structural MRI study.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a clinically and pathologically heterogeneous neurodegenerative condition with a prevalence comparable to Alzheimer's disease for patients under 65 years of age. Limited studies have examined the association between cognition and neuroimaging in FTD using different imaging modalities.

METHODS: We examined the association of cognition using Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) with both gray matter (GM) volume and glucose metabolism using magnetic resonance imaging and fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET in 21 patients diagnosed with FTD. Standardized uptake value ratio (SUVR) using the brainstem as a reference region was the primary outcome measure for FDG-PET. Partial volume correction was applied to PET data to account for disease-related atrophy.

RESULTS: Significant positive associations were found between whole-cortex GM volume and MoCA scores (r = 0.46, p = .04). The association between whole-cortex FDG SUVR and MoCA scores was not significant (r = 0.37, p = .09). GM volumes of the frontal cortex (r = 0.54, p = .01), caudate (r = 0.62, p<.01), and insula (r = 0.57, p<.01) were also significantly correlated with MoCA, as were SUVR values of the insula (r = 0.51, p = .02), thalamus (r = 0.48, p = .03), and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) (r = 0.47, p = .03).

CONCLUSIONS: Whole-cortex atrophy is associated with cognitive dysfunction, and this association is larger than for whole-cortex hypometabolism as measured with FDG-PET. At the regional level, focal atrophy and/or hypometabolism in the frontal cortex, insula, PCC, thalamus, and caudate seem to be important for the decline of cognitive function in FTD. Furthermore, these results highlight how functional and structural changes may not overlap and might contribute to cognitive dysfunction in FTD in different ways.

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