Objective: In Down's syndrome (trisomy 21), a dementia syndrome occurs that is phenotypically similar to Alzheimer's disease; the initial phase is characterized by memory loss. The authors used an in vivo structural technique in the predementia stage of Alzheimer's disease in adults with Down's syndrome to investigate whether atrophy of medial temporal lobe structures occurs in these subjects and whether volumes of these structures correlate specifically with performance on memory tests. Method: The subjects were 34 nondemented Down's syndrome adults (mean age=41.6 years, 17 women and 17 men) and 33 healthy comparison subjects (mean age=41.3, 15 women and 18 men). By using T 1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging slices taken perpendicular to the Sylvian fissure, volumes of the hippocampus, amygdala, anterior and posterior parahippocampal gyrus, and temporal pole CSF were measured in both hemispheres. These data were normalized to the total intracranial volume. Results: For Down's syndrome, smaller volumes of the right and left amygdala, hippocampus, and posterior parahippocampal gyrus were significantly associated with greater age; this association was not seen in the anterior parahippocampal gyrus. The amygdala and hippocampus volumes were positively correlated with memory measures. For the comparison group, there was no relationship between volume and age in any region. Conclusions: In the predementia phase of Down's syndrome, significant volume changes in medial temporal lobe structures occur with age and are related to memory. These structures are affected early in Alzheimer's disease in Down's syndrome, and their evaluation may help identify people in the preclinical stages of Alzheimer's disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health