Update on amyloid imaging: from healthy aging to Alzheimer's disease

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2009 Sep;9(5):345-52. doi: 10.1007/s11910-009-0051-4.


We report on the current state of in vivo amyloid imaging. Although this technique is less than a decade old, a wealth of information is emerging as the initial clinical studies are being reported. Imaging of patients with Alzheimer's disease has allowed quantitative exploration of the natural history of amyloid deposition and its relationship to neurodegeneration. Amyloid imaging also shows significant promise in the differential diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or atypical dementias. However, amyloid detection may be of greatest utility in healthy elderly persons; consistent with prior autopsy studies, a significant proportion of asymptomatic individuals display increased levels of amyloid by in vivo imaging. Understanding the relationship between this pathology and future cognitive status has significant implications for the application of disease-modifying medications in the "preclinical" phase of disease. Given the considerable clinical experience compared with other tracers, this review focuses on the literature involving Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cognition
  • Dementia / diagnostic imaging
  • Dementia / metabolism
  • Dementia / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Predictive Value of Tests


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides