Introduction: Subjective cognitive decline (SCD) represents a cognitively normal state but at an increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recognizing the glucose metabolic biomarkers of SCD could facilitate the location of areas with metabolic changes at an ultra-early stage. The objective of this study was to explore glucose metabolic biomarkers of SCD at the region of interest (ROI) level.
Methods: This study was based on cohorts from two tertiary medical centers, and it was part of the SILCODE project (NCT03370744). Twenty-six normal control (NC) cases and 32 SCD cases were in cohort 1; 36 NCs, 23 cases of SCD, 32 cases of amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCIs), 32 cases of AD dementia (ADDs), and 22 cases of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLBs) were in cohort 2. Each subject underwent [18F]fluoro-2-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and subjects from cohort 1 additionally underwent amyloid-PET scanning. The ROI analysis was based on the Anatomical Automatic Labeling (AAL) template; multiple permutation tests and repeated cross-validations were conducted to determine the metabolic differences between NC and SCD cases. In addition, receiver operating characteristic curves were used to evaluate the capabilities of potential glucose metabolic biomarkers in distinguishing different groups. Pearson correlation analysis was also performed to explore the correlation between glucose metabolic biomarkers and neuropsychological scales or amyloid deposition.
Results: Only the right middle temporal gyrus (RMTG) passed the methodological verification, and its metabolic levels were correlated with the degrees of complaints (R = - 0.239, p = 0.009), depression (R = - 0.200, p = 0.030), and abilities of delayed memory (R = 0.207, p = 0.025), and were weakly correlated with cortical amyloid deposition (R = - 0.246, p = 0.066). Furthermore, RMTG metabolism gradually decreased across the cognitive continuum, and its diagnostic efficiency was comparable (NC vs. ADD, aMCI, or DLB) or even superior (NC vs. SCD) to that of the metabolism of the posterior cingulate cortex or precuneus.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that the hypometabolism of RMTG could be a typical feature of SCD, and the large-scale hypometabolism in patients with symptomatic stages of AD may start from the RMTG, which gradually progresses starting in the preclinical stage. The specificity of identifying SCD from the perspective of self-perceived symptoms is likely to be increased by the detection of RMTG metabolism.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; FDG-PET; Glucose metabolic biomarker; Middle temporal gyrus; Subjective cognitive decline.