A predictive model using the mesoscopic architecture of the living brain to detect Alzheimer's disease

Commun Med (Lond). 2022 Jun 20;2(1):70. doi: 10.1038/s43856-022-00133-4.


Background: Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia, causes a progressive and irreversible deterioration of cognition that can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, leading to suboptimal patient care.

Methods: We developed a predictive model that computes multi-regional statistical morpho-functional mesoscopic traits from T1-weighted MRI scans, with or without cognitive scores. For each patient, a biomarker called "Alzheimer's Predictive Vector" (ApV) was derived using a two-stage least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO).

Results: The ApV reliably discriminates between people with (ADrp) and without (nADrp) Alzheimer's related pathologies (98% and 81% accuracy between ADrp - including the early form, mild cognitive impairment - and nADrp in internal and external hold-out test sets, respectively), without any a priori assumptions or need for neuroradiology reads. The new test is superior to standard hippocampal atrophy (26% accuracy) and cerebrospinal fluid beta amyloid measure (62% accuracy). A multiparametric analysis compared DTI-MRI derived fractional anisotropy, whose readout of neuronal loss agrees with ADrp phenotype, and SNPrs2075650 is significantly altered in patients with ADrp-like phenotype.

Conclusions: This new data analytic method demonstrates potential for increasing accuracy of Alzheimer diagnosis.

Plain language summary

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, impacting memory, thinking and behaviour. It can be challenging to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease which can lead to suboptimal patient care. During the development of Alzheimer’s disease the brain shrinks and the cells within it die. One method that can be used to assess brain function is magnetic resonance imaging, which uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce images of the brain. In this study, we develop a method that uses magnetic resonance imaging data to identify differences in the brain between people with and without Alzheimer’s disease, including before obvious shrinkage of the brain occurs. This method could be used to help diagnose patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.