Quantitative 18F-AV1451 brain tau PET imaging in cognitively normal older adults, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's disease patients

Qian Zhao, Min Liu, Lingxia Ha, Yun Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Recent developments of tau Positron Emission Tomography (PET) allows assessment of regional neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) deposition in human brain. Among the tau PET molecular probes, 18F-AV1451 is characterized by high selectivity for pathologic tau aggregates over amyloid plaques, limited non-specific binding in white and gray matter, and confined off-target binding. The objectives of the study are (1) to quantitatively characterize regional brain tau deposition measured by 18F-AV1451 PET in cognitively normal older adults (CN), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and AD participants; (2) to evaluate the correlations between cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers or Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and 18F-AV1451 PET standardized uptake value ratio (SUVR); and (3) to evaluate the partial volume effects on 18F-AV1451 brain uptake. Methods: The study included total 115 participants (CN = 49, MCI = 58, and AD = 8) from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). Preprocessed 18F-AV1451 PET images, structural MRIs, and demographic and clinical assessments were downloaded from the ADNI database. A reblurred Van Cittertiteration method was used for voxelwise partial volume correction (PVC) on PET images. Structural MRIs were used for PET spatial normalization and region of interest (ROI) definition in standard space. The parametric images of 18F-AV1451 SUVR relative to cerebellum were calculated. The ROI SUVR measurements from PVC and non-PVC SUVR images were compared. The correlation between ROI 18F-AV1451 SUVR and the measurements of MMSE, CSF total tau (t-tau), and phosphorylated tau (p-tau) were also assessed. Results: 18F-AV1451 prominently specific binding was found in the amygdala, entorhinal cortex, parahippocampus, fusiform, posterior cingulate, temporal, parietal, and frontal brain regions. Most regional SUVRs showed significantly higher uptake of 18F-AV1451 in AD than MCI and CN participants. SUVRs of small regions like amygdala, entorhinal cortex and parahippocampus were statistically improved by PVC in all groups (p < 0.01). Although there was an increasing tendency of 18F-AV-1451 SUVRs in MCI group compared with CN group, no significant difference of 18F-AV1451 deposition was found between CN and MCI brains with or without PVC (p > 0.05). Declined MMSE score was observed with increasing 18F-AV1451 binding in amygdala, entorhinal cortex, parahippocampus, and fusiform. CSF p-tau was positively correlated with 18F-AV1451 deposition. PVC improved the results of 18F-AV-1451 tau deposition and correlation studies in small brain regions. Conclusion: The typical deposition of 18F-AV1451 tau PET imaging in AD brain was found in amygdala, entorhinal cortex, fusiform and parahippocampus, and these regions were strongly associated with cognitive impairment and CSF biomarkers. Although more deposition was observed in MCI group, the 18F-AV-1451 PET imaging could not differentiate the MCI patients from CN population. More tau deposition related to decreased MMSE score and increased level of CSF p-tau, especially in ROIs of amygdala, entorhinal cortex and parahippocampus. PVC did improve the results of tau deposition and correlation studies in small brain regions and suggest to be routinely used in 18F-AV1451 tau PET quantification.

Original languageEnglish
Article number486
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - 2019


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cognitively normal
  • F-AV1451
  • Mild cognition impairment
  • Tau PET


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