An MRI-Based Atlas for Correlation of Imaging and Pathologic Findings in Alzheimer's Disease

Mekala R. Raman, Christopher G. Schwarz, Melissa E. Murray, Val J. Lowe, Dennis W. Dickson, Clifford R. Jack, Kejal Kantarci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Pathologic diagnosis is the gold standard in evaluating imaging measures developed as biomarkers for pathologically defined disorders. A brain MRI atlas representing autopsy-sampled tissue can be used to directly compare imaging and pathology findings. Our objective was to develop a brain MRI atlas representing the cortical regions that are routinely sampled at autopsy for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). METHODS: Subjects (n = 22; ages at death = 70-95) with a range of pathologies and antemortem 3T MRI were included. Histology slides from 8 cortical regions sampled from the left hemisphere at autopsy guided the localization of the atlas regions of interest (ROIs) on each subject's antemortem 3D T1-weighted MRI. These ROIs were then registered to a common template and combined to form one ROI representing the volume of tissue that was sampled by the pathologists. A subset of the subjects (n = 4; ages at death = 79-95) had amyloid PET imaging. Density of β-amyloid immunostain was quantified from the autopsy-sampled regions in the 4 subjects using a custom-designed ImageScope algorithm. Median uptake values were calculated in each ROI on the amyloid-PET images. RESULTS: We found an association between β-amyloid plaque density in 8 ROIs of the 4 subjects (total ROI n = 32) and median PiB SUVR (r2 = .64; P < .0001). CONCLUSIONS: In an atlas developed for imaging and pathologic correlation studies, we demonstrated that antemortem amyloid burden measured in the atlas ROIs on amyloid PET is strongly correlated with β-amyloid density measured on histology. This atlas can be used in imaging and pathologic correlation studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-268
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroimaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Atlas
  • MRI
  • Pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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