Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Haller: The main finding is that some elderly individuals with intact cognitive function at baseline already have visible alterations of the brain perfusion measured in Arterial Spin Labeling (ASL) MRI, which is similar to patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This elderly individual may initially maintain intact cognitive functions due to the activation of their cognitive reserve, yet eventually the cognitive reserve is exhausted and those individuals develop subtle cognitive decline at follow-up 18 months later.
Consequently, Arterial Spin Labeling MRI may predict the very earliest form of cognitive decline.
Medical Research: What was most surprising about the results?
Dr. Haller: Previous investigations of Arterial Spin Labeling MRI in patients with mild cognitive impairment and AD showed similar results, yet at later stages of the neurodegenerative process. It was interesting to see that ASL may already detect incipient cognitive decline at a much earlier phase.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Haller: Arterial Spin Labeling MRI has the potential to predict subsequent cognitive decline at the earliest stage. It does not require contrast agent or irradiation and simply prolongs the routinely performed structural MRI for a few minutes
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Haller: These promising results should be confirmed in larger and multi-center studies. Notably, it is important to standardize Arterial Spin Labeling MRI acquisitions across different institutions
Aikaterini Xekardaki, Cristelle Rodriguez, Marie-Louise Montandon, Simona Toma, Eline Tombeur, François R. Herrmann, Dina Zekry, Karl-Olof Lovblad, Frederik Barkhof, Panteleimon Giannakopoulos, Sven Haller. Arterial Spin Labeling May Contribute to the Prediction of Cognitive Deterioration in Healthy Elderly Individuals. Radiology, 2014; 140680 DOI: 10.1148/radiol.14140680.