The significance of medial temporal lobe atrophy: A postmortem MRI study in the very old

F. Barkhof, T. M. Polvikoski, E. C W Van Straaten, R. N. Kalaria, R. Sulkava, H. J. Aronen, L. Niinistö, S. Rastas, M. Oinas, P. Scheltens, T. Erkinjuntti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

163 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Medial temporal lobe atrophy (MTA) is a sensitive radiologic marker for Alzheimer disease (AD) and associated with cognitive impairment. The value of MTA in the oldest old (>85 years old) is largely unknown. METHODS: A total of 132 formalin-fixed brains from the Vantaa 85+ community-based study were subjected to postmortem MRI. Visual ratings of MTA were determined in a blinded fashion and compared with neuropathologic findings and clinical assessment (dementia according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-III-R). RESULTS: A strong relationship was found between MTA scores and Alzheimer pathology (p < 0.001). The previously proposed cutoff MTA score >2 correctly excluded subjects with no or borderline Alzheimer-type pathology (45/48), but was not very sensitive for AD (modified National Institute on Aging-Reagan Institute criteria). MTA scores >2 were also found in subjects with other primary neurodegenerative hippocampal pathology including hippocampal sclerosis, Lewy-related pathology, and argyrophilic grain disease, either alone or in combination with Alzheimer-type pathology. High MTA scores were associated with clinical dementia-in this subgroup, sensitivity was 63% and specificity 69% for AD. CONCLUSION: Medial temporal lobe atrophy (MTA) on postmortem MRI is sensitive to primary degenerative hippocampal pathology in the very old, but not specific for Alzheimer-type pathology. MTA scores of 2 or less are not frequently associated with dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1521-1527
Number of pages7
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2007

Cite this