PET shows similarities in early Alzheimer's, cognitively impaired patients

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A new study found that nearly 50 percent of patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment show signs of early Alzheimer's disease, according to a recent study of PET imaging published in the May 8 issue of Neurology. Researchers utilized PET to evaluate the uptake of the imaging agent carbon-11 labeled PIB which binds to amyloid plaques. Of the 13 patients in the study, eight of them showed an unusually high uptake of the agent.

"This pattern of increased PIB in patients with mild cognitive impairment resembles what's seen in Alzheimer's disease and is suggestive of an early Alzheimer's disease process," said Juha O. Rinne, MD from the University of Turku in Finland, a study lead author. "Our findings are similar to what's seen in post-mortem studies in which abnormal protein aggregation growth is found in people who had been diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's disease."

The researchers have called for larger, more detailed studies to be done in order to clarify if such patients to in fact eventually develop advanced Alzheimer's disease.