Hippocampal volume and asymmetry in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease: Meta-analyses of MRI studies

Hippocampus. 2009 Nov;19(11):1055-64. doi: 10.1002/hipo.20573.


Numerous studies have reported a smaller hippocampal volume in Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients than in aging controls. However, in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), the results are inconsistent. Moreover, the left-right asymmetry of the hippocampus receives less research attention. In this article, meta-analyses are designed to determine the extent of hippocampal atrophy in MCI and AD, and to evaluate the asymmetry pattern of the hippocampal volume in control, MCI, and AD groups. From 14 studies including 365 MCI patients and 382 controls, significant atrophy is found in both the left [Effect size (ES), 0.92; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.72-1.11] and right (ES, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.57-0.98) hippocampus, which is lower than that in AD (ES, 1.60, 95% CI, 1.37-1.84, in left; ES, 1.52, 95% CI, 1.31-1.72, in right). Comparing with aging controls, the average volume reduction weighted by sample size is 12.9% and 11.1% in left and right hippocampus in MCI, and 24.2% and 23.1% in left and right hippocampus in AD, respectively. The findings show a bilateral hippocampal volume loss in MCI and the extent of atrophy is less than that in AD. By comparing the left and right hippocampal volume, a consistent left-less-than-right asymmetry pattern is found, but with different extents in control (ES, 0.39), MCI (ES, 0.56), and AD (ES, 0.30) group.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • MEDLINE / statistics & numerical data
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged