Background: Growing evidence suggests that pathological processes leading to Alzheimerxxxs disease occurs gradually and begins to develop decades before the earliest clinical symptoms occur. The use of biomarkers has been proposed to detect evidence of preclinical Alzheimerxxxs pathologic change in asymptomatic subjects. Subjective cognitive complaints (SCC) i.e. self-reported cognitive decline with normal cognition have been reported as an indicator of future cognitive decline, however, this condition is unspecific. Objective: In the present study we used the regional brain perfusion measured by HMPAO-SPECT as Biomarker of neurodegeneration to compare the regional brain perfusion of patient with subjective cognitive complaints with and without minimal cognitive dysfunction (SCC+ and SCC-respectively) in respect to patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Methods: We retrospectively examined 736 Patients who referred to our Memory Clinic because of suspected cognitive dysfunction. After exclusion of patients with overt dementia, automated, quantitatively assessed relative cerebral blood flow of 10 forebrain regions (thalamus, parietotemporal, medial temporal, posterior temporal, posterior cingulate gyrus, each region left hemispheric and right hemispheric) and neuropsychological assessment of 64 SCC (32 SCC+; 32 SCC-) and 28 MCI subjects were analysed. Results:. The most relevant differences between groups in cognitive performance concerned verbal memory. Left hemispheric medial temporal region could significantly discriminate between all three groups, with a progressive decrease n perfusion from SCC towards MCI. Area under the curve of left medial temporal region showed a sensitivity of 0,61 and a specificity of 0,78 for discriminating MCI from SCC. Conclusion: Automated analysis of HMPAO-SPECT data of MCI and SCC+ patients showed significant perfusion differences in medial temporal region and impaired verbal memory, both of which are known features of Alzheimerxxxs disease. Perfusion patterns and verbal memory performance in SCC+ are more similar to MCI than SCC-. Thus, SPECT analysis could distinguish those subjects whose perfusion pattern resembles that of an MCI from those who do not. In our opinion, this could identify two populations with a different risk of progression to AD, with SCC+ subjects needing further diagnostic examination and repeated follow-up.
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