ObjectiveWe studied the biomarker signatures and prognoses of 3 different subtle cognitive impairment (SCI) groups (executive, memory, and multidomain) as well as the subjective memory complaints (SMC) group.
MethodsWe studied 522 healthy controls in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). Cutoffs for executive, memory, and multidomain SCI were defined using participants who remained cognitively normal (CN) for 7 years. CSF Alzheimer disease (AD) biomarkers, composite and region-of-interest (ROI) MRI, and fluorodeoxyglucose-PET measures were compared in these participants.
ResultsUsing a stringent cutoff (fifth percentile), 27.6% of the ADNI participants were classified as SCI. Most single ROI or global-based measures were not sensitive to detect differences between groups. Only MRI-SPARE-AD (Spatial Pattern of Abnormalities for Recognition of Early AD), a quantitative MRI pattern-based global index, showed differences between all groups, excluding the executive SCI group. Atrophy patterns differed in memory SCI and SMC. The CN and the SMC groups presented a similar distribution of preclinical dementia stages. Fifty percent of the participants with executive, memory, and multidomain SCI progressed to mild cognitive impairment or dementia at 7, 5, and 2 years, respectively.
ConclusionsOur results indicate that (1) the different SCI categories have different clinical prognoses and biomarker signatures, (2) longitudinally followed CN subjects are needed to establish clinical cutoffs, (3) subjects with SMC show a frontal pattern of brain atrophy, and (4) pattern-based analyses outperform commonly used single ROI-based neuroimaging biomarkers and are needed to detect initial stages of cognitive impairment.