Development of molecular imaging agents for fibrillar β-amyloid positron-emission tomography during the past decade has brought molecular imaging of Alzheimer disease pathology into the spotlight. Large cohort studies with longitudinal follow-up in cognitively normal individuals and patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease indicate that β-amyloid deposition can be detected many years before the onset of symptoms with molecular imaging, and its progression can be followed longitudinally. The utility of β-amyloid PET in the differential diagnosis of Alzheimer disease is greatest when there is no pathologic overlap between 2 dementia syndromes, such as in frontotemporal lobar degeneration and Alzheimer disease. However β-amyloid PET alone may be insufficient in distinguishing dementia syndromes that commonly have overlapping β-amyloid pathology, such as dementia with Lewy bodies and vascular dementia, which represent the 2 most common dementia pathologies after Alzheimer disease. The role of molecular imaging in Alzheimer disease clinical trials is growing rapidly, especially in an era when preventive interventions are designed to eradicate the pathology targeted by molecular imaging agents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology