Affiliation: Laboratoire de Psychologie et Neurocognition (LPNC, UMR CNRS 5105), UFR LLSH, Universite de Savoie, Domaine Universitaire de Jacob-Bellecombette, B.P. 1104 73011 Chambery Cedex, France.
Current research suggests that amygdalar volumes in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may be a relevant measure for its early diagnosis. However, findings are still inconclusive and controversial, partly because studies did not focus on the earliest stage of the disease. In this study, we measured amygdalar atrophy in 48 AD patients and 82 healthy controls (HC) by using a multi-atlas procedure, MAPER. Both hippocampal and amygdalar volumes, normalized by intracranial volume, were significantly reduced in AD compared with HC. The volume loss in the two structures was of similar magnitude (~24%). Amygdalar volume loss in AD predicted memory impairment after we controlled for age, gender, education, and, more important, hippocampal volume, indicating that memory decline correlates with amygdalar atrophy over and above hippocampal atrophy. Amygdalar volume may thus be as useful as hippocampal volume for the diagnosis of early AD. In addition, it could be an independent marker of cognitive decline. The role of the amygdala in AD should be reconsidered to guide further research and clinical practice.