Lower cerebral blood flow is associated with faster cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease

Eur Radiol. 2017 Mar;27(3):1169-1175. doi: 10.1007/s00330-016-4450-z. Epub 2016 Jun 22.


Objective: To determine whether lower cerebral blood flow (CBF) is associated with faster cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Methods: We included 88 patients with dementia due to AD from the Amsterdam Dementia Cohort. Mean follow-up was 2 ± 1 years. Linear mixed models were used to determine associations of lower whole brain and regional pseudo-continuous arterial spin labelling measured CBF with rate of cognitive decline as measured with repeated mini-mental state examination (MMSE). Model 1 was adjusted for age, sex, and education. Model 2 was additionally adjusted for normalized gray matter volume, medial temporal lobe atrophy, white matter hyperintensities, microbleeds, and lacunes. Analyses were repeated after partial volume correction (PVC) of CBF. Statistical significance was set at p ≤ 0.05.

Results: Patients were 65 ± 7 years old, 44 (50 %) were women, and mean baseline MMSE was 22 ± 4. Annual decline (β[SE]) on the MMSE was estimated at -2.11 (0.25) points per year. Lower whole brain (β[SE]-0.50[0.25]; p ≤ 0.05) and parietal (β[SE]-0.59[0.25]; p < 0.05) CBF were associated with faster cognitive decline. PVC cortical CBF was not associated with cognitive decline.

Conclusions: Lower CBF, in particular in the posterior brain regions, may have value as a prognostic marker for rate of cognitive decline in AD.

Key points: • In AD, lower CBF is associated with more rapid cognitive decline. • Decreasing CBF does not reach a plateau early in AD. • PcASL-CFB has additive value to conventional structural MRI measures in AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; dementia; perfusion; prognosis; progression.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • Gray Matter / pathology
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Spin Labels
  • Temporal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology
  • Time Factors


  • Spin Labels