Orit H Lesman-Segev, Renaud La Joie, Leonardo Iaccarino, Iryna Lobach, Howard J Rosen, Sang Won Seo, Mustafa Janabi, Suzanne L Baker, Lauren Edwards, Julie Pham, John Olichney, Adam Boxer, Eric Huang, Marilu Gorno-Tempini, Charles DeCarli, Mackenzie Hepker, Ji-Hye L Hwang, Bruce L Miller, Salvatore Spina, Lea T Grinberg, William W Seeley, William J Jagust, Gil D Rabinovici
Ann Neurol . 2021 Feb;89(2):389-401. doi: 10.1002/ana.25968. Epub 2020 Dec 7.
Publication year: 2021

Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare the diagnostic accuracy of antemortem 11 C-Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) and 18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) versus autopsy diagnosis in a heterogenous sample of patients.

Methods: One hundred one participants underwent PIB and FDG PET during life and neuropathological assessment. PET scans were visually interpreted by 3 raters blinded to clinical information. PIB PET was rated as positive or negative for cortical retention, whereas FDG scans were read as showing an Alzheimer disease (AD) or non-AD pattern. Neuropathological diagnoses were assigned using research criteria. Majority visual reads were compared to intermediate-high AD neuropathological change (ADNC).

Results: One hundred one participants were included (mean age = 67.2 years, 41 females, Mini-Mental State Examination = 21.9, PET-to-autopsy interval = 4.4 years). At autopsy, 32 patients showed primary AD, 56 showed non-AD neuropathology (primarily frontotemporal lobar degeneration [FTLD]), and 13 showed mixed AD/FTLD pathology. PIB showed higher sensitivity than FDG for detecting intermediate-high ADNC (96%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 89-100% vs 80%, 95% CI = 68-92%, p = 0.02), but equivalent specificity (86%, 95% CI = 76-95% vs 84%, 95% CI = 74-93%, p = 0.80). In patients with congruent PIB and FDG reads (77/101), combined sensitivity was 97% (95% CI = 92-100%) and specificity was 98% (95% CI = 93-100%). Nine of 24 patients with incongruent reads were found to have co-occurrence of AD and non-AD pathologies.

Interpretation: In our sample enriched for younger onset cognitive impairment, PIB-PET had higher sensitivity than FDG-PET for intermediate-high ADNC, with similar specificity. When both modalities are congruent, sensitivity and specificity approach 100%, whereas mixed pathology should be considered when PIB and FDG are incongruent.