J Alzheimers Dis 2018 ;62(4):1713-1724
Department of Radiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.
Background: Despite common pathology, Alzheimer's disease (AD) can have multiple clinical presentations which pathological studies suggest result from differences in the regional distribution of tau pathology. Positron emission tomography (PET) ligands are now available that can detect tau proteins in vivo and hence can be used to investigate the biological mechanisms underlying atypical AD.
Objective: To assess regional patterns of tau uptake on PET imaging in two atypical AD variants, posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) and logopenic progressive aphasia (lvPPA).
Methods: Eighteen PCA and 19 lvPPA subjects that showed amyloid-β deposition on PET underwent tau-PET imaging with [18F]AV-1451. Group comparisons of tau uptake in PCA and lvPPA were performed using voxel-level and regional-level analyses. We also assessed the degree of lobar tau asymmetry and correlated regional tau uptake to age and performance on clinical evaluations.
Results: Both syndromes showed diffuse tau uptake throughout all cortical regions, although PCA showed greater uptake in occipital regions compared to lvPPA, and lvPPA showed greater uptake in left frontal and temporal regions compared to PCA. While lvPPA showed predominant left-asymmetric tau deposition, PCA was more bilateral. Younger subjects showed greater tau uptake bilaterally in frontal and parietal lobes than older subjects, and sentence repetition, Boston naming test, simultanagnosia, and visuoperceptual function showed specific regional tau correlates.
Conclusion: Tau deposition is closely related to clinical presentation in atypical AD with age playing a role in determining the degree of cortical tau deposition.