Scientific publication

PET amyloid in normal aging: direct comparison of visual and automatic processing methods

Sven Haller et al.

Assessment of amyloid deposits is a critical step for the identification of Alzheimer disease (AD) signature in asymptomatic elders. Whether the different amyloid processing methods impacts on the quality of clinico-radiological correlations is still unclear.

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We directly compared in 155 elderly controls with extensive neuropsychological testing at baseline and 4.5 years follow-up three approaches: (i) operator-dependent standard visual reading, (ii) operator-independent automatic SUVR with four different reference regions, and (iii) novel operator and region of reference-independent automatic Aβ-index. The coefficient of variance was used to examine inter-individual variability for each processing method. Using visually-established amyloid positivity as the gold standard, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) was computed.

Linear regression models were used to assess the association between changes in continuous cognitive score and amyloid uptake values. In SUVR analyses, the coefficient of variance varied from 1.718 to 1.762 according to the area of reference and was of − 3.045 for the Aβ-index method. Compared to the visual rating, Aβ-index method showed the largest area under the ROC curve [0.9568 (95% CI 0.9252, 0.98833)]. The best cut-off score was of − 0.3359 with sensitivity and specificity values of 0.97 and 0.83, respectively. Only the Aß-index was related to more severe decrement of cognitive performances [regression coefficient: 9.103 (95% CI 1.148, 17.058)]. The Aβ-index is considered as preferred option in asymptomatic elders, since it is operator-independent, avoids the selection of reference area, is closer to established visual scoring and correlates with the evolution of cognitive performances.