Purpose: To determine whether hippocampal relaxation times in magnetic resonance (MR) imaging differ between patients with probable Alzheimer disease and elderly control subjects with normal cognition.
Materials and methods: MR imaging relaxation times were measured in the head and body of the right and left hippocampi in 123 subjects: 62 patients with Alzheimer disease (44 women, 18 men; age range, 65-89 years) and 61 elderly control subjects without cognitive impairment (39 women, 22 men; age range, 65-89 years). Hippocampal relaxation times were correlated with clinical status (patient vs control subject), age, sex, laterality (right vs left), and location within the hippocampus (body vs head). The hippocampal T2 value was correlated with the severity of disease in the patients.
Results: No statistically significant difference in the relaxation times was found between the two clinical groups for the analysis of the right versus left hippocampi and the hippocampal head versus body. In both patients and control subjects, no correlation was found between T2 measurements and age or sex. Twenty-seven patients had a clinical dementia rating (CDR) score of 0.5 (very mild dementia), 21 patients had a CDR score of 1.0 (mild dementia), and eight patients had a CDR score of 2.0 (moderate dementia). The CDR score was not available in six patients. No statistically significant association between T2 values and severity of disease was observed.
Conclusion: MR relaxation time measurements in the hippocampus are not useful for the detection of Alzheimer disease.