Individual Brain Metabolic Signatures in Corticobasal Syndrome

J Alzheimers Dis. 2020;76(2):517-528. doi: 10.3233/JAD-200153.


Background: Corticobasal syndrome (CBS) is the usual clinical presentation of patients with corticobasal degeneration pathology. Nevertheless, there are CBS individuals with postmortem neuropathology typical of Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Objective: In this study, we aim to detect FDG-PET metabolic signatures at the single-subject level in a CBS sample, also evaluated with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) markers for AD pathology.

Methods: 21 patients (68.9±6.4 years; MMSE score = 21.7±6.3) fulfilling current criteria for CBS were enrolled. All underwent a clinical-neuropsychological assessment and an instrumental evaluation for biomarkers of neurodegeneration, amyloid and tau pathology (i.e., FDG-PET imaging and CSF Aβ42 and tau levels) at close intervals. CBS subjects were classified according to the presence or absence of CSF markers of AD pathology (i.e., low Aβ42 and high phosphorylated tau levels). Optimized voxel-based SPM procedures provided FDG-PET metabolic patterns at the single-subject and group levels.

Results: Eight CBS had an AD-like CSF profile (CBS-AD), while thirteen were negative (CBS-noAD). The two subgroups did not differ in demographic characteristics or global cognitive impairment. FDG-PET SPM t-maps identified different metabolic signatures. Namely, all CBS-AD patients showed the typical AD-like hypometabolic pattern involving posterior cingulate cortex, precuneus and temporo-parietal cortex, whereas CBS-noAD cases showed bilateral hypometabolism in fronto-insular cortex and basal ganglia that is typical of the frontotemporal lobar degeneration spectrum.

Discussion: These results strongly suggest the inclusion of FDG-PET imaging in the diagnostic algorithm of individuals with CBS clinical phenotype in order to early identify functional metabolic signatures due to different neuropathological substrates, thus improving the diagnostic accuracy.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; FDG-PET; corticobasal degeneration; corticobasal syndrome; positron emission tomography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Basal Ganglia / diagnostic imaging
  • Basal Ganglia / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale*
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / metabolism*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Syndrome


  • Biomarkers