Alliance for aging research AD biomarkers work group: structural MRI

Neurobiol Aging. 2011 Dec;32 Suppl 1(0 1):S48-57. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.09.011.


Biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease (AD) are increasingly important. All modern AD therapeutic trials employ AD biomarkers in some capacity. In addition, AD biomarkers are an essential component of recently updated diagnostic criteria for AD from the National Institute on Aging--Alzheimer's Association. Biomarkers serve as proxies for specific pathophysiological features of disease. The 5 most well established AD biomarkers include both brain imaging and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) measures--cerebrospinal fluid Abeta and tau, amyloid positron emission tomography (PET), fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography, and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This article reviews evidence supporting the position that MRI is a biomarker of neurodegenerative atrophy. Topics covered include methods of extracting quantitative and semiquantitative information from structural MRI; imaging-autopsy correlation; and evidence supporting diagnostic and prognostic value of MRI measures. Finally, the place of MRI in a hypothetical model of temporal ordering of AD biomarkers is reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Atrophy
  • Autopsy
  • Biomarkers*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers