Purpose: To investigate the brain iron deposits in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and healthy age-matched controls using phase imaging.
Materials and methods: Twenty-six AD patients and 24 healthy controls were recruited. A three-dimensional high-resolution, gradient-echo sequence was used to acquire phase data in the coronal plane. A high-pass filter was used to remove the phase variation caused by field inhomogeneity. The regions evaluated included the bilateral putamen, globus pallidus, and the head and body of the hippocampus.
Results: Significantly lower phase values in both the basal ganglion and hippocampus were revealed in the AD group compared to the normal controls (P < 0.05). The phase value in the right side of the head of the hippocampus had a moderate positive correlation with the MMSE score (r= 0.603, P = 0.000) and a negative correlation with the duration of the disease (r = -0.677, P = 0.013). Using -0.0972 radians as an optimal cutoff value, the sensitivity and specificity for differentiation between AD and normal controls reached 95.8 and 80.8%, respectively.
Conclusion: Phase imaging proved to be a useful method for the differentiation between normal controls and AD patients. An investigation of the excessive accumulation of iron in the hippocampus may help us better understand the pathologic process and neuropsychological dysfunction of AD disease.