Background: Single-volume proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) has considerable diagnostic potential for Alzheimer's disease (AD). This study investigated 1H MRS in specific regions of the brain, the posterior cingulate gyri (PCG) and the hippocampus, in patients with AD, amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), and in normal control subjects.
Methods: 1H MRS analysis was carried out on 47 patients with AD, 32 patients with aMCI and 56 normal control subjects (NC group). Volumes of the PCG and hippocampus were assessed, and the metabolic signals of N-acetylaspartate (NAA), choline compounds (Cho), myo-inositol (mI), and creatine (Cr) were quantified.
Results: In the PCG, differences between the test groups were found in NAA/Cr, Cho/Cr, mI/Cr and NAA/mI ratios. Group differences were also found in mI/Cr and NAA/mI ratios in the left hippocampus, and in mI/Cr and NAA/mI ratios in the right hippocampus. NAA/Cr ratios increased in the PCG between AD and aMCI patients, and between aMCI and NC patients. Conversely, mI/Cr ratios in the PCG and left hippocampus decreased across AD, aMCI, and NC subjects. In discriminate and ROC (Receiver Operating Characteristic) analyses, a NAA/Cr ratio of ≤ 1.50 in the PCG indicated optimal potential for discriminating between aMCI patients and normal control subjects. Discriminating potential was also found to be high for a NAA/mI ratio in the PCG of ≤ 2.72. Despite significant differences between NC and aMCI patients in the mI/Cr ratio in the PCG and in the NAA/mI ratio in the left hippocampus, their sensitivity and specificity were all lower than 75%.
Conclusion: Proton MRS of the PCG using the NAA/Cr ratio as a metabolic marker indicates considerable potential for distinguishing between aMCI and NC subjects.