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New Marker Identified for Early Alzheimer's Disease

Higher hippocampal mean diffusivity associated with poorer performance on memory tests

THURSDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- In healthy older adults, higher hippocampal mean diffusivity may help predict memory decline, according to a study published online Jan. 6 in Neurology.

Giovanni A. Carlesimo, M.D., of Tor Vergata University in Rome, and colleagues studied 76 adults aged 20 to 80 years who underwent a 3-T MRI protocol with a whole-brain T1-weighted and diffusion-weighted scanning and a neuropsychological assessment.

In subjects beyond their 50s, the researchers found that high mean diffusivity values in the hippocampal formation -- but not hippocampal fractional anisotropy, hippocampal volume, or total brain volume -- predicted delayed recall of verbal as well as visual-spatial information.

"As better medications for Alzheimer's disease become available, it will be essential to identify individuals at high risk for the disease not only early but also as accurately as possible so that treatment interventions can be most effective," states the author of an accompanying editorial. "Carlesimo et al have put MRI diffusion high on the list of potential early markers of Alzheimer's disease with their eloquent study of normal aging."

One co-author reported serving on advisory boards for Wyeth and Novartis.

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