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    Brain Atrophy Pattern May Predict Cognitive Decline

    Magnetic resonance discriminated between healthy controls, those with Alzheimer's disease

    WEDNESDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A pattern of brain atrophy can discriminate between people with mild Alzheimer's disease and healthy individuals, according to research published online Feb. 6 in Radiology.

    Linda K. McEvoy, Ph.D., of the University of California San Diego, and colleagues with the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) analyzed magnetic resonance images from 139 healthy controls, 84 patients with mild Alzheimer's disease and 175 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), using volumetric segmentation and cortical surface reconstruction methods. The researchers sought a pattern of atrophy that was characteristic of mild Alzheimer's disease.

    Assessing atrophy in mesial temporal, lateral temporal, isthmus cingulate and orbitofrontal regions allowed researchers to discriminate between healthy subjects and those with Alzheimer's disease with 83 percent sensitivity and 93 percent specificity. Patients with MCI and the Alzheimer's phenotype had a significant one-year decline in Mini-Mental State Examination score compared to those with the healthy phenotype, who remained stable, the investigators found.

    An improvement in prognostic information, as seen in this study, "could be valuable for individual patient treatment, particularly when aggressive new treatments that may prevent or delay Alzheimer's disease become available. Currently, such information could provide an important enrichment strategy for the design of large-scale clinical trials, enabling them to identify a more homogeneous cohort of individuals with MCI who are at high risk of imminent decline, allowing for smaller sample sizes and shorter trial durations," the authors conclude.

    A study co-author is founder of CorTech Labs and serves on its scientific advisory board, and ADNI is partially funded through contributions from several pharmaceutical companies.

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