The main aim of the present study was to compare volume differences in the hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus as biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Based on the previous findings, we hypothesized that there would be significant volume differences between cases of healthy aging, amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), and mild AD. Furthermore, we hypothesized that there would be larger volume differences in the parahippocampal gyrus than in the hippocampus. In addition, we investigated differences between the anterior, middle, and posterior parts of both structures. We studied three groups of participants: 18 healthy participants without memory decline, 18 patients with aMCI, and 18 patients with mild AD. 3 T T1-weighted MRI scans were acquired and gray matter volumes of the anterior, middle, and posterior parts of both the hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus were measured using a manual tracing approach. Volumes of both the hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus were significantly different between the groups in the following order: healthy>aMCI>AD. Volume differences between the groups were relatively larger in the parahippocampal gyrus than in the hippocampus, in particular, when we compared healthy with aMCI. No substantial differences were found between the anterior, middle, and posterior parts of both structures. Our results suggest that parahippocampal volume discriminates better than hippocampal volume between cases of healthy aging, aMCI, and mild AD, in particular, in the early phase of the disease. The present results stress the importance of parahippocampal atrophy as an early biomarker of AD.
© The Author(s) 2010. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com