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Critical Reviews™ in Biomedical Engineering
SJR: 0.26 SNIP: 0.375 CiteScore™: 1.4

ISSN Imprimer: 0278-940X
ISSN En ligne: 1943-619X

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Critical Reviews™ in Biomedical Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevBiomedEng.2016019544
pages 213-225

Comprehensive Review on Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Alzheimer's Disease

Olga Dona
McMaster School of Biomedical Engineering, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Jeff Thompson
McMaster School of Biomedical Engineering, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Cheryl Druchok
McMaster School of Biomedical Engineering, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly. However, definitive diagnosis of AD is only achievable postmortem and currently relies on clinical neurological evaluation. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can evaluate brain changes typical of AD, including brain atrophy, presence of amyloid β (Aβ) plaques, and functional and biochemical abnormalities. Structural MRI (sMRI) has historically been used to assess the inherent brain atrophy present in AD. However, new techniques have recently emerged that have refined sMRI into a more precise tool to quantify the thickness and volume of AD-sensitive cerebral structures. Aβ plaques, a defining pathology of AD, are widely believed to contribute to the progressive cognitive decline in AD, but accurate assessment is only possible on autopsy. In vivo MRI of plaques, although currently limited to mouse models of AD, is a very promising technique. Measuring changes in activation and connectivity in AD-specific regions of the brain can be performed with functional MRI (fMRI). To help distinguish AD from diseases with similar symptoms, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) can be used to look for differing metabolite concentrations in vivo. Together, these MR techniques, evaluating various brain changes typical of AD, may help to provide a more definitive diagnosis and ease the assessment of the disease over time, noninvasively.

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