Preserved Pontine Glucose Metabolism in Alzheimer Disease: A Reference Region for Functional Brain Image (PET) Analysis

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ObjectiveOur goal was to examine regional preservation of energy metabolism in Alzheimer disease (AD) and to evaluate effects of PET data normalization to reference regions.Materials and MethodsRegional metabolic rates in the pons, thalamus, putamen, sensorimotor cortex, visual cortex, and cerebellum (reference regions) were determined stereotaxically and examined in 37 patients with probable AD and 22 normal controls based on quantitative 18FDG-PET measurements. Following normalization of metabolic rates of the parietotemporal association cortex and whole brain to each reference region, distinctions of the two groups were assessed.ResultsThe pons showed the best preservation of glucose metabolism in AD. Other reference regions showed relatively preserved metabolism compared with the parietotemporal association cortex and whole brain, but had significant metabolic reduction. Data normalization to the pons not only enhanced statistical significance of metabolic reduction in the parietotemporal association cortex, but also preserved the presence of global cerebral metabolic reduction indicated in analysis of the quantitative data.ConclusionEnergy metabolism in the pons in probable AD is well preserved. The pons is a reliable reference for data normalization and will enhance diagnostic accuracy and efficiency of quantitative and nonquantitative functional brain imaging.

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