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    Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting many individuals worldwide with no effective treatment to date. AD is characterized by the formation of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, followed by neurodegeneration, which leads to cognitive decline and eventually death. In AD, pathological changes occur many years before disease onset. Since disease-modifying therapies may be the most beneficial in the early stages of AD, biomarkers for the early diagnosis and longitudinal monitoring of disease progression are essential. Multiple imaging techniques with associated biomarkers are used to identify and monitor AD. In this review, we discuss the contemporary early diagnosis and longitudinal monitoring of AD with imaging techniques regarding their diagnostic utility, benefits and limitations. Additionally, novel techniques, applications and biomarkers for AD research are assessed. Reduced hippocampal volume is a biomarker for neurodegeneration, but atrophy is not an AD-specific measure. Hypometabolism in temporoparietal regions is seen as a biomarker for AD. However, glucose uptake reflects astrocyte function rather than neuronal function. Amyloid-β (Aβ) is the earliest hallmark of AD and can be measured with positron emission tomography (PET), but accumulation stagnates as disease progresses. Therefore, may not be a suitable biomarker for monitoring disease progression. The measurement of tau accumulation with PET radiotracers exhibited promising results in both early diagnosis and longitudinal monitoring, but large-scale validation of these radiotracers is required. The implementation of new processing techniques, applications of other imaging techniques and novel biomarkers can contribute to understanding AD and finding a cure. Several biomarkers are proposed for the early diagnosis and longitudinal monitoring of AD with imaging techniques, but all these biomarkers have their limitations regarding specificity, reliability and sensitivity. Future perspectives. Future research should focus on expanding the employment of imaging techniques and identifying novel biomarkers that reflect AD pathology in the earliest stages.


    Wieke M van Oostveen, Elizabeth C M de Lange. Imaging Techniques in Alzheimer's Disease: A Review of Applications in Early Diagnosis and Longitudinal Monitoring. International journal of molecular sciences. 2021 Feb 20;22(4)

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    PMID: 33672696

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