Purpose: Cortical atrophy is correlated with the progression of neuropathological lesions within the medial temporal lobes (MTL) in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Our aim was to determine which local and remote functional changes result from MTL volume loss at the predementia stage.
Methods: We studied the relationship between entorhinal and hippocampal MR volumes and whole-brain SPECT perfusion via a voxel-based correlative analysis in 19 patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment with a memory profile suggestive of early AD.
Results: Right MTL volumes were positively correlated with remote posterior perfusion of the posterior cingulate cortex, and negatively correlated with remote anterior perfusion of the right medial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. There was no local correlation between volumes and perfusion within the MTL.
Conclusion: These findings provide further insight into functional changes that result from MTL volume loss during the predementia stage of AD. The positive correlation between MTL volumes and posterior cingulate perfusion may reflect the deafferentation of a temporocingulate network due to mediotemporal degeneration. The paradoxical negative correlation between MTL volumes and prefrontal perfusion may result from recruitment of an alternative anterior temporofrontal network. It remains to be investigated how the "net sum" of this perfusion modulation affects memory and other cognitive domains through a possible compensatory perspective.