FDG-PET and amyloid-PET imaging: The diverging paths

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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The availability of PET neuroimaging tools for the in-vivo assessment of metabolic dysfunction and amyloid burden in Alzheimer's disease has opened important methodological and practical issues in the diagnostic design and the conduct of new clinical trials. This review, addressing the different molecular information that the amyloid-PET and fluorodeoxyglucose-PET (FDG-PET) tools can provide, highlights their diverging paths in Alzheimer's disease and possible new perspectives in research and clinical applications. RECENT FINDINGS: Senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are prominent neuropathological hallmarks in Alzheimer's disease and are considered to be targets for therapeutic intervention and biomarkers for diagnostic in-vivo imaging agents. Alzheimer's disease is a slowly progressing disorder, in which pathophysiological abnormalities, detectable in vivo by PET biomarkers, precede clinical symptoms by many years to decades. The unitary view of Alzheimer's disease as a sequential pathological pathway, with beta-amyloid (Aβ) as the only initial and causal event (the 'amyloid cascade hypothesis'), is likely to be progressively replaced by a more complex picture, also on the basis of recent PET imaging findings showing that neuronal injury biomarkers and tau pathology can be independent of β-amyloid deposition. SUMMARY: The different molecular paths that PET in-vivo biomarkers can reveal in the timeframe of Alzheimer's disease progression reflect the events leading to deposition of Aβ and phosphorylated tau, neuronal injury and neurodegeneration, which can run in parallel instead of in a sequential manner. The amyloid and neuronal injury paths may diverge along the Alzheimer's disease cascade and bear separate relationships with Alzheimer's disease symptoms and clinical phenotypes. All these evidences are crucial for the diagnosis and the development of new drugs aimed at slowing or preventing dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-413
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • amyloid burden
  • cerebral glucose metabolism
  • PET
  • radiotracers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Medicine(all)


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