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Potential Role of Neuroimaging Markers for Early Diagnosis of Dementia in Primary Care

[ Vol. 15 , Issue. 1 ]


Stefan Teipel*, Ingo Kilimann, Jochen R. Thyrian, Stefan Kloppel and Wolfgang Hoffmann   Pages 18 - 27 ( 10 )


Background: The use of imaging markers for the diagnosis of predementia and early dementia stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD) has widely been explored in research settings and specialized care. The use of these markers in primary care has yet to be established.

Objective: Summarize current evidence for the usefulness of imaging markers for AD in primary compared to specialized care settings.

Method: Selective overview of the literature, and pilot data on the use of MRI-based hippocampus and basal forebrain volumetry for the discrimination of AD dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) cases from healthy controls in 58 cases from a primary care cohort and 58 matched cases from a memory clinic's sample.

Results: Molecular imaging marker of amyloid pathology, and volumetric markers of regional and whole brain atrophy support the diagnosis of AD dementia and MCI due to AD, and contribute to confidence in the differential diagnosis of AD and non-AD related dementias in specialized care. Limited evidence from the literature and our primary care cohort suggests that the diagnostic accuracy of volumetric imaging markers may be similar in the dementia stage of AD, but may be inferior for cases with MCI in primary compared with specialized care.

Conclusion: Evidence is still widely lacking on the use of imaging markers for early and differential diagnosis of AD dementia, and detection of prodromal AD in primary care. Further progress to fill this gap will depend on the availability of international multimodal data from well-defined primary care cohorts.


Primary care, hippocampus volumetry, amyloid PET, early diagnosis, MCI, preclinical Alzheimer's disease.


Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, University Medicine Rostock, Rostock, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, University Medicine Rostock, Rostock, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Rostock/Greifswald, Greifswald, University Hospital of Old Age Psychiatry, University of Bern, Bern, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Rostock/Greifswald, Greifswald

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