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Using MRI, researchers may predict which adults will develop Alzheimer's
Date:4/5/2011

ght and language and observed the pattern of thinning to compute a risk score. One of the characteristics of AD is a loss of brain cells, called atrophy, in specific areas of the cortex.

"MRI is very sensitive to brain atrophy," Dr. McEvoy said. "There's a pattern of cortical thinning associated with AD that indicates the patient is more likely to progress to AD."

Using the baseline MRI, the researchers calculated that the patients with MCI had a one-year risk of conversion to AD ranging from three to 40 percent.

"Compared to estimating a patient's risk of conversion based on a clinical diagnosis only, MRI provides substantially more informative, patient-specific risk estimates," Dr. McEvoy said. "The baseline MRI helped identify which patients were at very low risk of progressing to Alzheimer's and those whose risk was doubled."

By combining results of the baseline MRI and the MRI exam performed one year later, the researchers were able to calculate a rate of change in brain atrophy that was even more informative. The MCI patients' risk of disease progression based on the serial MR exams ranged from 3 to 69 percent.

"Rapid thinning of the cortex is reflective of a degenerative disorder," Dr. McEvoy explained.

Although no treatments currently exist that slow or prevent the neurodegeneration associated with AD, Dr. McEvoy said patients at high risk of progressing to AD might want to enroll in clinical trials of disease-modifying therapies. She said the information would also help ensure patients receive optimal care and allow families more time for planning.


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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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