Longitudinal assessment of Aβ and cognition in aging and Alzheimer disease


  • D.A. is Principle Investigator of the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle study of ageing.



Assess Aβ deposition longitudinally and explore its relationship with cognition and disease progression.


Clinical follow-up was obtained 20 ± 3 months after [11C]Pittsburgh compound B (PiB)-positron emission tomography in 206 subjects: 35 with dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT), 65 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 106 age-matched healthy controls (HCs). A second PiB scan was obtained at follow-up in 185 subjects and a third scan after 3 years in 57.


At baseline, 97% of DAT, 69% of MCI, and 31% of HC subjects showed high PiB retention. At 20-month follow-up, small but significant increases in PiB standardized uptake value ratios were observed in the DAT and MCI groups, and in HCs with high PiB retention at baseline (5.7%, 2.1%, and 1.5%, respectively). Increases were associated with the number of apolipoprotein E ε4 alleles. There was a weak correlation between PiB increases and decline in cognition when all groups were combined. Progression to DAT occurred in 67% of MCI with high PiB versus 5% of those with low PiB, but 20% of the low PiB MCI subjects progressed to other dementias. Of the high PiB HCs, 16% developed MCI or DAT by 20 months and 25% by 3 years. One low PiB HC developed MCI.


Aβ deposition increases slowly from cognitive normality to moderate severity DAT. Extensive Aβ deposition precedes cognitive impairment, and is associated with ApoE genotype and a higher risk of cognitive decline in HCs and progression from MCI to DAT over 1 to 2 years. However, cognitive decline is only weakly related to change in Aβ burden, suggesting that downstream factors have a more direct effect on symptom progression. Ann Neurol 2011;69:181–192.