Background: The promise of Alzheimer's disease biomarkers has led to their incorporation in new diagnostic criteria and in therapeutic trials; however, significant barriers exist to widespread use. Chief among these is the lack of internationally accepted standards for quantitative metrics. Hippocampal volumetry is the most widely studied quantitative magnetic resonance imaging measure in Alzheimer's disease and thus represents the most rational target for an initial effort at standardization.
Methods and results: The authors of this position paper propose a path toward this goal. The steps include the following: (1) Establish and empower an oversight board to manage and assess the effort, (2) adopt the standardized definition of anatomic hippocampal boundaries on magnetic resonance imaging arising from the European Alzheimer's Disease Centers-Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative hippocampal harmonization effort as a reference standard, (3) establish a scientifically appropriate, publicly available reference standard data set based on manual delineation of the hippocampus in an appropriate sample of subjects (Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative), and (4) define minimum technical and prognostic performance metrics for validation of new measurement techniques using the reference standard data set as a benchmark.
Conclusions: Although manual delineation of the hippocampus is the best available reference standard, practical application of hippocampal volumetry will require automated methods. Our intent was to establish a mechanism for credentialing automated software applications to achieve internationally recognized accuracy and prognostic performance standards that lead to the systematic evaluation and then widespread acceptance and use of hippocampal volumetry. The standardization and assay validation process outlined for hippocampal volumetry was envisioned as a template that could be applied to other imaging biomarkers.
Copyright © 2011 The Alzheimer's Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.