Predicting conversion from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease using brain 1 H-MRS and volumetric changes: A two- year retrospective follow-up study

Micaela Mitolo, Michelangelo Stanzani-Maserati, Sabina Capellari, Claudia Testa, Paola Rucci, Roberto Poda, Federico Oppi, Roberto Gallassi, Luisa Sambati, Giovanni Rizzo, Piero Parchi, Stefania Evangelisti, Lia Talozzi, Caterina Tonon, Raffaele Lodi, Rocco Liguori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the ability of magnetic resonance spectroscopy ( 1 H-MRS) of posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and brain volumetry to predict the progression from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer's Disease (AD) on the basis of clinical classification at 2 years follow-up. Thirty-eight MCI patients, eighteen healthy older adults and twenty-three AD patients were included in this study. All participants underwent a brain-MR protocol (1.5 T GE scanner) including high-resolution T1-weighted volumetric sequence (isotropic 1mm 3 ). Voxel-wise differences in brain volumetry were evaluated using FreeSurfer software and all volumes were normalized by the total intracranial volume (TIV). Careful localization of 1 H-MRS volume of PCC was performed and data were processed with the LCModel program. MCI patients underwent a complete neuropsychological assessment at baseline and were clinically re-evaluated after a mean of 28 months; twenty-six MCI patients (68.4%) converted to AD and twelve remained stable. At baseline these two MCI subgroups did not differ in the global cognitive level (Mini Mental State Examination, MMSE) or in any of the other cognitive domains; the NAA/ mI ratio in the PCC was able to differentiate MCI converters from those MCI that did not develop AD (p = 0.022) with a level of accuracy (AUC area) of 0.779. A significantly reduced volume of parahippocampal gyrus (p = 0.010) and fusiform gyrus (p = 0.026) were found in the converter MCI subgroup compared to the stable MCI subgroup. The combined use of both N- acetyl-aspartate (NAA)/myo-Inositol (mI) ratio and volume of parahippocampal gyrus, increases the overall accuracy (AUC = 0.910) in predicting the conversion to AD two years before the development of clinical symptoms. Additional longitudinal studies with a broader representative sample of MCI patients and longer follow-up might be helpful to confirm these results and to elucidate the role of each parameter in predicting the possible progression to AD, and also to all the other non-AD dementia subtypes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101843
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • H-MRS
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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