Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a disease with dysfunctional brain network. Previous studies found the cerebellar volume changes over the course of AD disease progression; however, whether cerebellar volume change contributes to the cognitive decline in AD, or its earlier disease stage (i.e., mild cognitive impairment [MCI]) remains unclear. In ADNI, cognitive function was assessed using Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Behavior section (ADAS-Cog). We used linear regression and linear mixed effects models to examine whether cerebellar volume is associated with either baseline cognition or with cognitive changes over time in MCI or in AD. We used logistic regression to assess the relationship between cerebellar volume and disease progression to MCI and AD. We found that cerebellar volume is associated with cognition in patients with MCI, after adjusting for age, gender, education, hippocampal volume, and APOE4 status. Consistently, cerebellar volume is associated with increased odds of the disease stages of MCI and AD when compared to controls. However, cerebellar volume is not associated with cognitive changes over time in either MCI or AD. In summary, cerebellar volume may contribute to cognition level in MCI, but not in AD, indicating that the cerebellar network might modulate the cognitive function in the early stage of the disease. The cerebellum may be a potential target for neuromodulation in treating MCI.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Cerebellum; MRI; Mild cognitive impairment; Volumetric MRI.