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Classifying late-onset dementia with MRI: Is arteriosclerotic brain degeneration the most common cause of Alzheimer′s syndrome?

Authors Henry-Feugeas MC, Onen F, Claeys ES

Published 7 March 2008 Volume 2008:3(1) Pages 187—199


Marie Cécile Henry-Feugeas1, Fannie Onen2, Elisabeth Schouman Claeys1

1Department of Radiology, 2Department of Geriatrics, Bichat-Claude Bernard University Hospital, AP-HP, Paris, France

Abstract: Our aim was to use early magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate the causes of cognitive decline in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Baseline structural and flow quantification MR sequences, and clinical and neuropsychological follow-up for at least two years, were performed on 62 elderly subjects with MCI. Of these subjects, 17 progressed to dementia, and 15 of these progressed to dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT). Conversion to clinically diagnosed DAT was related to six distinct MR profiles, including one profile suggesting severe AD (20% of these converters) and five profiles suggesting severe cerebrovascular dysfunction. Two profiles suggested arteriosclerotic brain degeneration, one profile suggested severe venous windkessel dysfunction, and two suggested marked cerebral hypoperfusion associated with very low craniospinal compliance or marked brain atrophy. As compared with vascular MR type converters, AD MR type converters showed high executive and mobility predementia performances. Severe whole anteromesial temporal atrophy and predominantly left brain atrophy on visual MR analysis was only observed in AD MR type converters. In conclusion, these observations enhance the pathogenic complexity of the Alzheimer syndrome, and suggest that the role of arteriosclerotic brain degeneration in late life dementia is underestimated.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, dementia, MRI, phase contrast, atherosclerosis

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