Amygdalar Atrophy in Early Alzheimer’s Disease
Rolf A. Heckemann,
Kylee T. Ramdeen,
for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.
Current research suggests that amygdalar volumes in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may be a relevant
measure for its early diagnosis. However, findings are still inconclusive and controversial, partly because studies did not
focus on the earliest stage of the disease. In this study, we measured amygdalar atrophy in 48 AD patients and 82 healthy
controls (HC) by using a multi-atlas procedure, MAPER. Both hippocampal and amygdalar volumes, normalized by intracranial
volume, were significantly reduced in AD compared with HC. The volume loss in the two structures was of
similar magnitude (~24%). Amygdalar volume loss in AD predicted memory impairment after we controlled for age, gender,
education, and, more important, hippocampal volume, indicating that memory decline correlates with amygdalar atrophy
over and above hippocampal atrophy. Amygdalar volume may thus be as useful as hippocampal volume for the diagnosis
of early AD. In addition, it could be an independent marker of cognitive decline. The role of the amygdala in AD
should be reconsidered to guide further research and clinical practice.
Keywords: Automatic segmentation, brain, hippocampus, MRI, neuropsychology.
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