Structural deterioration and volume loss of the hippocampal formation is observed in many diseases associated with memory decline. Paradoxically, glucose metabolism of the hippocampal formation can be increased at the same time. This might be a consequence of compensatory (beneficial) or maladaptive (detrimental) mechanisms. Aim of this study was to differentiate between compensation and maladaptation by analyzing the association between glucose metabolism in the hippocampal formation measured by positron emission tomography with the glucose analogue 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose and cognitive performance as characterized by the extended Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease test battery in a sample of 87 patients (81.8 ± 5.4 years) with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia and varying etiological diagnoses. Glucose metabolism in the hippocampal formation was negatively correlated with the performance in several cognitive subdomains, most pronounced for verbal semantic fluency, independent of overall neuronal dysfunction, presence of clinical Alzheimer's disease, and overall cognitive performance. This finding provides evidence that increased glucose metabolism in the hippocampal formation of cognitively impaired patients indicates detrimental maladaptation rather than a beneficial compensatory reaction. Excess glucose metabolism in the hippocampal formation might be a useful therapeutic target in these patients.
Keywords: Cognitive impairment; Dementia; Geriatric inpatients; Hippocampal formation; Hypermetabolism; Positron emission tomography.
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