Education-Adjusted Normality Thresholds for FDG-PET in the Diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease

Neurodegener Dis. 2018;18(2-3):120-126. doi: 10.1159/000488915. Epub 2018 Jun 5.


Background: A corollary of the reserve hypothesis is that what is regarded as pathological cortical metabolism in patients might vary according to education.

Objective: The aim of this study is to assess the incremental diagnostic value of education-adjusted over unadjusted thresholds on the diagnostic accuracy of FDG-PET as a biomarker for Alzheimer disease (AD).

Methods: We compared cortical metabolism in 90 healthy controls and 181 AD patients from the Alzheimer Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database. The AUC of the ROC curve did not differ significantly between the whole group and the higher-education patients or the lower-education subjects.

Results: The threshold of wMetaROI values providing 80% sensitivity was lower in higher-education patients and higher in the lower-education patients, compared to the standard threshold derived over the whole AD collective, without, however, significant changes in sensitivity and specificity.

Conclusion: These data show that education, as a proxy of reserve, is not a major confounder in the diagnostic accuracy of FDG-PET in AD and the adoption of education-adjusted thresholds is not required in daily practice.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease; Education; FDG-PET; Reserve.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroimaging* / methods
  • Positron-Emission Tomography* / methods
  • ROC Curve
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers
  • Radiopharmaceuticals