Cortical laminar binding of PET amyloid and tau tracers in Alzheimer disease

J Nucl Med. 2015 Feb;56(2):270-3. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.114.149229. Epub 2015 Jan 8.


Neurofibrillary tau pathology and amyloid β (Aβ) plaques, characteristic lesions of Alzheimer disease (AD), show different neocortical laminar distributions. Neurofibrillary-tangle tau pathology tends to be closer to the gray matter-white matter boundary, whereas Aβ is dispersed throughout the width of the cortical ribbon.

Methods: Using PET radiotracers for tau and Aβ lesions, we developed an image analysis tool to measure the distance of tracer-positive voxels from the gray matter-white matter boundary. We studied 5 AD and 5 healthy subjects with both (18)F-THK5117 (tau) and (11)C-Pittsburgh compound B (Aβ) PET.

Results: On average, tau-positive voxels were closer to the white matter than were Aβ-positive voxels. This effect was found for all AD subjects and for all regions, both before and after regionally adjusting for the nonspecific white matter binding of both tracers. The differential laminar pattern was validated through postmortem examination.

Conclusion: Within cortical lamina, distance measures may be of value in testing PET tracers for their anatomic selectivity.

Keywords: PET; amyloid beta; neocortical binding; tau.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Amyloid / chemistry*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / chemistry*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / chemistry
  • Carbon Radioisotopes / chemistry
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / diagnostic imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • tau Proteins / chemistry*


  • Amyloid
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • tau Proteins