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In vivo nucleus basalis of Meynert degeneration in mild cognitive impairment with Lewy bodies

Lookup NU author(s): Julia Schumacher, Professor John-Paul TaylorORCiD, Dr Calum Hamilton, Dr Michael FirbankORCiD, Dr Ruth Cromarty, Dr Paul Donaghy, Dr Gemma RobertsORCiD, Dr Louise Allan, Dr James LloydORCiD, Dr Rory Durcan, Nicola Barnett, Professor John O'Brien, Professor Alan ThomasORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021. Objectives: To investigate in vivo degeneration of the cholinergic system in mild cognitive impairment with Lewy bodies (MCI-LB), we studied nucleus basalis of Meynert (NBM) volumes from structural MR images and its relation to EEG slowing and cognitive impairment. Methods: We studied the NBM using structural MR images in 37 patients with MCI-LB, 34 patients with MCI with Alzheimer's disease (MCI-AD), and 31 healthy control participants. We also tested correlations between NBM volumes and measures of overall cognition and measures of EEG slowing in the MCI groups. Results: Overall NBM volume was reduced in MCI-LB compared to controls with no significant difference between MCI-AD and controls or between the two MCI groups. The voxel-wise analysis revealed bilateral clusters of reduced NBM volume in MCI-LB compared to controls and smaller clusters in MCI-AD compared to controls. There was a significant association between overall NBM volume and measures of overall cognition in MCI-LB, but not in MCI-AD. In both MCI groups, reduced NBM volume was correlated with more severe EEG slowing. Conclusions: This study provides in vivo evidence that early cholinergic degeneration in DLB occurs at the MCI stage and is related to the severity of cognitive impairment. Furthermore, the results suggest that early EEG slowing in MCI-LB might be in part cholinergically driven. Importantly, these findings suggest an early cholinergic deficit in MCI-LB that may motivate further testing of the effectiveness of cholinesterase inhibitors in this group.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Schumacher J, Taylor J-P, Hamilton CA, Firbank M, Cromarty RA, Donaghy PC, Roberts G, Allan L, Lloyd J, Durcan R, Barnett N, O'Brien JT, Thomas AJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: NeuroImage: Clinical

Year: 2021

Volume: 30

Online publication date: 04/03/2021

Acceptance date: 15/02/2021

Date deposited: 08/09/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2213-1582

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.nicl.2021.102604

PubMed id: 33711623


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Funder referenceFunder name
ARUK-PG2015-13Alzheimer`s Research UK