FDG and Amyloid PET in Cognitively Normal Individuals at Risk for Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease

Adv J Mol Imaging. 2014 Apr;4(2):15-26. doi: 10.4236/ami.2014.42003.


Having a parent affected by late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a major risk factor for cognitively normal (NL) individuals. This study explores the potential of PET with 18F-FDG and the amyloid- β (Aβ) tracer 11C-Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) for detection of individual risk in NL adults with AD-parents.

Methods: FDG- and PiB-PET was performed in 119 young to late-middle aged NL individuals including 80 NL with positive family history of AD (FH+) and 39 NL with negative family history of any dementia (FH-). The FH+ group included 50 subjects with maternal (FHm) and 30 with paternal family history (FHp). Individual FDG and PiB scans were Z scored on a voxel-wise basis relative to modality-specific reference databases using automated procedures and rated as positive or negative (+/-) for AD-typical abnormalities using predefined criteria. To determine the effect of age, the cohort was separated into younger (49 ± 9 y) and older (68 ± 5 y) groups relative to the median age (60 y).

Results: Among individuals of age >60 y, as compared to controls, NL FH+ showed a higher frequency of FDG+ scans vs. FH- (53% vs. 6% p < 0.003), and a trend for PiB+ scans (27% vs. 11%; p = 0.19). This effect was observed for both FHm and FHp groups. Among individuals of age ≤60 y, NL FHm showed a higher frequency of FDG+ scans (29%) compared to FH- (5%, p = 0.04) and a trend compared to FHp (11%) (p = 0.07), while the distribution of PiB+ scans was not different between groups. In both age cohorts, FDG+ scans were more frequent than PiB+ scans among NL FH+, especially FHm (p < 0.03). FDG-PET was a significant predictor of FH+ status. Classification according to PiB status was significantly less successful.

Conclusions: Automated analysis of FDG- and PiB-PET demonstrates higher rates of abnormalities in at-risk FH+ vs FH- subjects, indicating potentially ongoing early AD-pathology in this population. The frequency of metabolic abnormalities was higher than that of Aβ pathology in the younger cohort, suggesting that neuronal dysfunction may precede major aggregated Aβ burden in young NL FH+. Longitudinal follow-up is required to determine if the observed abnormalities predict future AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s Disease; Amyloid Imaging; Early Detection; Glucose Metabolism; Normal Aging; Positron Emission Tomography.