Imaging amyloid-beta deposits in vivo

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2002 Sep;22(9):1035-41. doi: 10.1097/00004647-200209000-00001.


Alzheimer disease (AD) is an illness that can only be diagnosed with certainty with postmortem examination of brain tissue. Tissue samples from afflicted patients show neuronal loss, neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), and amyloid-beta plaques. An imaging technique that permitted in vivo detection of NFTs or amyloid-beta plaques would be extremely valuable. For example, chronic imaging of senile plaques would provide a readout of the efficacy of experimental therapeutics aimed at removing these neuropathologic lesions. This review discusses the available techniques for imaging amyloid-beta deposits in the intact brain, including magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, single photon emission computed tomography, and multiphoton microscopy. A variety of agents that target amyloid-beta deposits specifically have been developed using one or several of these imaging modalities. The difficulty in developing these tools lies in the need for the agents to cross the blood-brain barrier while recognizing amyloid-beta with high sensitivity and specificity. This review describes the progress in developing reagents suitable for in vivo imaging of senile plaques.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / analysis*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides