Context:: Annually 10-12% of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are likely to progress to Alzheimer's Disease (AD). The morphometric profile in stable non-converters has not been adequately characterized.
Aims: To determine the structural differences between amnestic MCI and early AD using volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and its correlation with neuropsychological test performances.
Settings and design:: This was a hospital-based case-control study.
Materials and methods:: Twenty-four patients classified as having "non-progressor" MCI, 13 as having an early AD, and 25 controls, and assessed using neuropsychological evaluation, and three-dimensional T1-weighted 1.5T magnetic resonance maging (MRI) were included in the study. We used both voxel-based morphometry and automated regional volumetry to assess the topographical patterns of volume loss.
Statistical analysis used: Post-hoc analysis of variance was done for comparison between means, and partial correlation analysis was done for correlating volumetric and cognitive measures.
Results:: Consistently, significant atrophy of the superior temporal gyrus, left hippocampus, and mesial frontoparietal regions were identified in patients with MCI in comparison to controls. Increased atrophy in the limbic regions, temporal neocortex, and precuneus was identified in patients with early AD in comparison to patients with MCI. While differences in retention and recall scores between the groups were independent of age and volumetric variables, significant correlations were observed between the learning and recall scores and the volume of hippocampus in patients with MCI as well as temporal neocortex in patients with AD. Atrophy of the superior temporal gyrus and mesial neocortical regions represents the structural correlate of amnestic MCI parallel to the development of hippocampal atrophy.
Conclusions:: Identification of the pattern of volumetric abnormalities in patients with amnestic MCI in addition to atrophy of the medial temporal lobes necessitates a close follow up to continuously assess these patients for their progression to early AD.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; amnestic mild cognitive impairment; automated regional volumetry; voxel-based morphometry.