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Biomarkers and Brain Imaging of Presymptomatic Alzheimer's Disease: Exploring the Silent Years

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is set to become the most devastating health care crisis facing society in the 21st century as we shift toward an increasingly elderly demographic. With the advent of new clinical tools, there is an increasing appreciation that the events leading to AD may begin years and even decades prior to diagnosis. The availability of amyloid imaging agents provides one striking example: Fibrillar amyloid deposits, once considered "tombstone markers" occurring well after diagnosis of AD, are now known to occur a decade or more prior to diagnosis on average. The goal of this symposium is to explore an integrated view of the structural, functional, and biochemical events that may precede and predict both AD and amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). The available tools include imaging agents for amyloid deposits, FDG-PET, structural MRI, default network functional MRI, and a plethora of potential CSF and plasma biochemical markers. Developing and refining this integrated view of what these clinical tools are able to reveal is essential to gaining clues about key causal events leading to AD, to understanding how measurable functional deficits in the brain might be detected behaviorally, and to establishing and validating surrogate biomarkers predictive of AD onset.

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