Evaluation of 18 F-flutemetamol amyloid PET image analysis parameters on the effect of verubecestat on brain amlyoid load in Alzheimer's disease

Mol Imaging Biol. 2022 Jul 7. doi: 10.1007/s11307-022-01735-z. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: The BACE inhibitor verubecestat was previously found to reduce amyloid load as assessed by 18F-flutemetamol positron emission tomography (PET) composite cortical standard uptake value ratio (SUVr) in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD) in a substudy of the EPOCH trial. Here, we report on additional analyses relevant to the EPOCH PET data, to help inform on the use of PET for assessing amlyloid load in AD clinical trials.

Procedures: The analyses addressed (1) identification of an optimal 18F-flutemetamol reference region, (2) determination of the threshold to characterize the magnitude of the longitudinal change, and (3) the impact of partial volume correction (PVC). Pons and subcortical white matter were evaluated as reference regions. The SUVr cutoffs and final reference region choice were determined using 162 18F-flutemetamol PET scans from the AIBL dataset. 18F-flutemetamol SUVrs were computed at baseline and at Week 78 in EPOCH participants who received verubecestat 12 mg (n = 14), 40 mg (n = 20), or placebo (n = 20). Drug effects on amyloid load were computed using either Meltzer (MZ), or symmetric geometric transfer matrix (SGTM) PVC and compared to uncorrected data.

Results: The optimal subcortical white matter and pons SUVr cutoffs were determined to be 0.69 and 0.62, respectively. The effect size to detect longitudinal change was higher for subcortical white matter (1.20) than pons (0.45). Hence, subcortical white matter was used as the reference region for the EPOCH PET substudy. In EPOCH, uncorrected baseline SUVr values correlated strongly with MZ PVC (r2 = 0.94) and SGTM PVC (r2 = 0.92) baseline SUVr values, and PVC did not provide improvement for evaluating treatment effects on amyloid load at Week 78. No change from baseline was observed in the placebo group at Week 78, whereas a 0.02 and a 0.04 decrease in SUVr were observed in the 12 mg and 40 mg arms, with the latter representing a 22% reduction in the amyloid load above the detection threshold.

Conclusions: Treatment-related 18F-flutemetamol longitudinal changes in AD clinical trials can be quantified using a subcortical white matter reference region without PVC.

Clinical trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov NCT01739348.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid load; Imaging; PET; Partial volume correction; Verubecestat.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01739348