DOI: 10.1007/s00259-018-4149-2Pages: 1-9

Amyloid burden identifies neuropsychological phenotypes at increased risk of progression to Alzheimer’s disease in mild cognitive impairment patients

1. S. Andrea Hospital, Nuclear Medicine Department

2. Memory Laboratory CNS-ONLUS

3. S. Andrea Hospital, Medical Physics Department

4. S. Andrea Hospital, Department of Neurology

5. National Research Council, Biostructure and Bioimaging Institute

6. Interuniversitary Research Center for Sustainable Development (CIRPS)

Correspondence to:
Andrea Ciarmiello




The extent of amyloid burden associated with cognitive impairment in amnestic mild cognitive impairment is unknown. The primary aim of the study was to determine the extent to which amyloid burden is associated to the cognitive impairment. The secondary objective was to test the relationship between amyloid accumulation and memory or cognitive impairment.

Materials and methods

In this prospective study 66 participants with amnestic mild cognitive impairment underwent clinical, neuropsychological and PET amyloid imaging tests. Composite scores assessing memory and non-memory domains were used to identify two clinical classes of neuropsychological phenotypes expressing different degree of cognitive impairment. Detection of amyloid status and definition of optimal amyloid ± cutoff for discrimination relied on unsupervised k-means clustering method.


Threshold for identifying low and high amyloid retention groups was of SUVr = 1.3. Aß + participants showed poorer global cognitive and episodic memory performance than subjects with low amyloid deposition. Aß positivity significantly identified individuals with episodic memory impairment with a sensitivity and specificity of 80 and 79%, (χ2 = 21.48; P < 0.00001). Positive and negative predictive values were 82 and 76%, respectively. Amyloid deposition increased linearly as function of memory impairment with a rate of 0.13/ point of composite memory score (R = −44, P = 0.0003).


The amyloid burden of SUVr = 1.3 allows early identification of subjects with episodic memory impairment which might predict progression from MCI to Alzheimer’s disease.

Trial registration

EudraCT 2015-001184-39.

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  • Accepted: Aug 26, 2018
  • Online: Sep 22, 2018

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