White matter reference region in PET studies of 11C-Pittsburgh compound B uptake: Effects of age and amyloid-β deposition

Val J. Lowe, Emily S. Lundt, Matthew L. Senjem, Christopher G. Schwarz, Hoon Ki Min, Scott A. Przybelski, Kejal Kantarci, David Knopman, Ronald C. Petersen, Clifford R. Jack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Amyloid-β (Aβ) deposition as seen on PET using an Aβ-binding agent is a critical diagnostic biomarker for Alzheimer disease (AD). Some reports suggest using white matter (WM) as a reference region for quantification of serial Aβ PET studies; however, nonspecific WM retention in Aβ PET in people with dementia or cognitively unimpaired (CU) has been widely reported and is poorly understood. Methods: To investigate the suitability of WM as a reference region and the factors affecting WM 11C-Pittsburgh compound B (11C-PiB) uptake variability, we conducted a retrospective study on 2 large datasets: a longitudinal study of participants (n 5 577) who were CU, had mild cognitive impairment, or had dementia likely due to AD; and a crosssectional study of single-scan PET imaging in CU subjects (n 5 1,349). In the longitudinal study, annual changes in WM 11C-PiB uptake were assessed, and in the cross-sectional study, WM 11C-PiB uptake was assessed relative to subject age. Results: Overall, we found that WM 11C-PiB uptake showed age-related increases, which varied with the WM regions selected. Further, variable annual WM 11C-PiB uptake changes were seen with different gray matter (GM) 11C-PiB baseline uptake levels. Conclusion: WM binding increases with age and varies with GM 11C-PiB. These correlations should be considered when using WM for normalization in 11C-PiB PET studies. The cerebellar crus11Crus2 showed no increase with age and cerebellar GM1WM showed minimal increase, supporting their use as reference regions for cross-sectional studies comparing wide age spans. In longitudinal studies, the increase in WM uptake may be minimal in the short-term and thus using WM as a reference region in these studies seems reasonable. However, as participants age, the findings may be affected by changes in WM uptake. Changes in WM 11C-PiB uptake may relate to disease progression, warranting examination of the causes of WM 11C-PiB uptake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1583-1589
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • 11C-PiB
  • AD
  • Amyloid-β
  • PET
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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