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Brain perfusion abnormalities in Alzheimer's disease: comparison between patients with focal temporal lobe dysfunction and patients with diffuse cognitive impairment


OBJECTIVES Patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) showing a selective impairment of episodic and semantic memory have recently been classified as affected by focal temporal lobe dysfunction (FTLD) and considered as a distinct subgroup of patients affected by a particular form of AD. The aim was to compare the cerebral perfusion of patients with AD with FTLD and patients with AD with the more typical profile of diffuse cognitive impairment (dAD).

METHODS Ten patients with AD with FTLD, 14 patients with AD with dAD, and 12 normal controls were studied. All the 24 patients with AD underwent a complete neuropsychological assessment. SPECT examination with [99mTc]-HMPAO, using a four head brain dedicated tomograph, was performed in patients and controls. Tracer uptake was quantified in 27 regions of interest (ROIs), including lateral and mesial temporal areas. Mean counts in the 27 ROIs of controls, patients with FTLD and those with dAD were compared using an ANOVA for repeated measures with Bonferroni's correction. A logistic regression analysis, followed by a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, was also applied to select SPECT patterns which significantly differentiated patients with FTLD and those with dAD.

RESULTS Two scintigraphic patterns of abnormalities, shaping a double dissociation between the FTLD and dAD groups, emerged: a bilateral mesial temporal hypoperfusion, characteristic of FTLD and a posterior parietal (and temporal parietal) hypoperfusion characteristic of patients with dAD.

CONCLUSIONS These scintigraphic findings provide further support to the hypothesis that FTLD is not a mere stage but a distinct anatomoclinical form of AD. The combination of neuropsychological tests and [99mTc]-HMPAO SPECT may be very useful in identifying patients with FTLD from the wider group of patients with dAD. This issue is particularly worthwhile, as there is increasing evidence that patients with FTLD have a slower rate of cognitive decline.

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • focal temporal lobe dysfunction
  • neuropsychological profiles
  • [99mTc]-HMPAO SPECT
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