Imaging markers for Alzheimer disease: Which vs how

Giovanni B. Frisoni, Martina Bocchetta, Gael Chételat, Gil D. Rabinovici, Mony J. De Leon, Jeffrey Kaye, Eric M. Reiman, Philip Scheltens, Frederik Barkhof, Sandra E. Black, David J. Brooks, Maria C. Carrillo, Nick C. Fox, Karl Herholz, Agneta Nordberg, Clifford R. Jack, William J. Jagust, Keith A. Johnson, Christopher C. Rowe, Reisa A. SperlingWilliam Thies, Lars Olof Wahlund, Michael W. Weiner, Patrizio Pasqualetti, Charles DeCarli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


Revised diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer disease (AD) acknowledge a key role of imaging biomarkers for early diagnosis. Diagnostic accuracy depends on which marker (i.e., amyloid imaging, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose [FDG]-PET, SPECT, MRI) as well as how it is measured ("metric": visual, manual, semiautomated, or automated segmentation/computation). We evaluated diagnostic accuracy of marker vs metric in separating AD from healthy and prognostic accuracy to predict progression in mild cognitive impairment. The outcome measure was positive (negative) likelihood ratio, LR1 (LR2), defined as the ratio between the probability of positive (negative) test outcome in patients and the probability of positive (negative) test outcome in healthy controls. Diagnostic LR1 of markers was between 4.4 and 9.4 and LR2 between 0.25 and 0.08, whereas prognostic LR1 and LR2 were between 1.7 and 7.5, and 0.50 and 0.11, respectively. Within metrics, LRs varied up to 100-fold: LR1 from approximately 1 to 100; LR2 from approximately 1.00 to 0.01. Markers accounted for 11% and 18% of diagnostic and prognostic variance of LR1 and 16% and 24% of LR2. Across all markers, metrics accounted for an equal or larger amount of variance than markers: 13% and 62% of diagnostic and prognostic variance of LR1, and 29% and 18% of LR2. Within markers, the largest proportion of diagnostic LR1 and LR2 variability was within 18F-FDG-PET and MRI metrics, respectively. Diagnostic and prognostic accuracy of imaging AD biomarkers is at least as dependent on how the biomarker is measured as on the biomarker itself. Standard operating procedures are key to biomarker use in the clinical routine and drug trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-500
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 30 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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