Quantitative Evaluation of 18F-Flutemetamol PET in Patients With Cognitive Impairment and Suspected Alzheimer’s Disease: A Multicenter Study


Background: In clinical practice, equivocal findings are inevitable in visual interpretation of whether amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) is positive or negative. It is therefore necessary to establish a more objective quantitative evaluation method for determining the indication for disease-modifying drugs currently under development.

Aims: We aimed to determine cutoffs for positivity in quantitative analysis of 18F-flutemetamol PET in patients with cognitive impairment and suspected Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We also evaluated the clinical efficacy of amyloid PET in the diagnosis of AD. This study was registered in the Japan Registry of Clinical Trials (jRCTs, 031180321).

Methods: Ninety-three patients suspected of having AD underwent 18F-flutemetamol PET in seven institutions. A PET image for each patient was visually assessed and dichotomously rated as either amyloid-positive or amyloid-negative by two board-certified nuclear medicine physicians. If the two readers obtained different interpretations, the visual rating was rerun until they reached consensus. The PET images were quantitatively analyzed using the standardized uptake value ratio (SUVR) and standardized Centiloid (CL) scale with the whole cerebellum as a reference area.

Results: Visual interpretation obtained 61 positive and 32 negative PET scans. Receiver operating characteristic analysis determined the best agreement of quantitative assessments and visual interpretation of PET scans to have an area under curve of 0.982 at an SUVR of 1.13 and a CL of 16. Using these cutoff values, there was high agreement between the two approaches (kappa = 0.88). Five discordant cases had SUVR and CL values ranging from 1.00 to 1.22 and from 1 to 26, respectively. In these discordant cases, either diffuse or mildly focal elevation of cortical activity confused visual interpretation. The amyloid PET outcome significantly altered the diagnosis of AD (χ2 = 51.3, p < 0.0001). PET imaging elevated the proportions of the very high likelihood category from 20.4 to 46.2% and the very low likelihood category from 0 to 22.6%.

Conclusion: Quantitative analysis of amyloid PET using 18F-flutemetamol can objectively evaluate amyloid positivity using the determined cutoffs for SUVR and CL. Moreover, amyloid PET may have added value over the standard diagnostic workup in dementia patients with cognitive impairment and suspected AD.



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