September 21, 2021

PET scans, measuring glucose, better than Amyloid scans to assess Alzheimer’s

In addition to toxic proteins, few researchers claim that a lack of glucose in the brain as people age could lead to Alzheimer’s.

Details of the Study

A new study has found that PET scans measuring glucose may be a better indicator of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease than amyloid PET scans. In this study, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University discovered that fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET, a PET scan that looks at the brain’s glucose consumption and impact on neurons, does a better job at measuring the progression of Alzheimer’s and MCI than florbetapir-PET scans, which look at amyloid levels in the brain.


As a result, the FDG PET could also provide doctors with a better understanding of how well certain Alzheimer’s treatments are working.

“Both florbetapir-PET and FDG-PET are approved diagnostic methods for Alzheimer’s disease, and both appear to be effective in indicating some sort of cognitive impairment. However, we have now shown that FDG-PET is significantly more precise in clinical studies, and it is also available for routine use with modest costs.

Our results support the notion that amyloid imaging does not reflect levels of brain function, and therefore it may be of limited value for assessing patients with cognitive decline.”

– Abass Alavi, MD, PhD, Professor of Radiology at Penn, the study’s co-principal investigator

“Amyloid imaging has a value in diagnosing or ruling out Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s a bit like all or nothing. Our study shows that it can reveal disease, but you wouldn’t be able to differentiate between someone who had very mild or very severe symptoms.”

– Andrew Newberg, MD, Professor of Radiology at Thomas Jefferson University, the study’s co-principal investigator


He said that in drug trials, researchers should consider doing the FDG-PET scan instead of looking at amyloid to figure out if a certain drug therapy is effective.


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