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The use of neuroimaging techniques in the early and differential diagnosis of dementia.

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Dementia is a leading cause of disability and death worldwide. At present there is no disease modifying treatment for any of the most common types of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Vascular dementia, Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) and Frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Early and accurate diagnosis of dementia subtype is critical to improving clinical care and developing better treatments. Structural and molecular imaging has contributed to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative dementias and is increasingly being adopted into clinical practice for early and accurate diagnosis. In this review we summarise the contribution imaging has made with particular focus on multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography imaging (PET). Structural MRI is widely used in clinical practice and can help exclude reversible causes of memory problems but has relatively low sensitivity for the early and differential diagnosis of dementia subtypes. 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET has high sensitivity and specificity for AD and FTD, while PET with ligands for amyloid and tau can improve the differential diagnosis of AD and non-AD dementias, including recognition at prodromal stages. Dopaminergic imaging can assist with the diagnosis of LBD. The lack of a validated tracer for α-synuclein or TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) imaging remain notable gaps, though work is ongoing. Emerging PET tracers such as 11C-UCB-J for synaptic imaging may be sensitive early markers but overall larger longitudinal multi-centre cross diagnostic imaging studies are needed.


Acknowledgements: We thank Dr Elijah Mak, Dr Maura Malpetti, Dr Simon Jones and Dr Michael Firbank for providing the brain images used in the figures of this review. Our work is supported by the Cambridge Centre for Parkinson-Plus and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR203312). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. LC serves as clinical hub advisor to the Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) Early Detection of Neurodegeneration (EDoN) Initiative. For the purpose of open access, the authors have applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.


Humans, Frontotemporal Dementia, Diagnosis, Differential, Alzheimer Disease, Lewy Body Disease, Neuroimaging, Positron-Emission Tomography

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Mol Psychiatry

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC