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M. ten Kate, F. Barkhof, A.J. Schwarz

J Prev Alz Dis 2024;1(11):38-47

BACKGROUND: Longitudinal changes in volumetric MRI outcome measures have been shown to correlate well with longitudinal changes in clinical instruments and have been widely used as biomarker outcomes in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). While instances of discordant findings have been noted in some trials, especially the recent amyloid-removing therapies, the overall relationship between treatment effects on brain atrophy and clinical outcomes, and how it might depend on treatment target or mechanism, clinical instrument or imaging variable is not yet clear. OBJECTIVE: To systematically assess the consistency and therapeutic class-dependence of treatment effects on clinical outcomes and on brain atrophy in published reports of clinical trials conducted in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and/or AD. DESIGN: Quantitative review of the published literature. The consistency of treatment effects on clinical and brain atrophy outcomes was assessed in terms of statistical agreement with hypothesized equal magnitude effects (e.g., 30% slowing of both) and nominal directional concordance, as a function of therapeutic class. SETTING: Interventional randomized clinical trials. PARTICIPANTS: MCI or AD trial participants. INTERVENTION: Treatments included were those that involved ingestion or injection of a putatively active substance into the body, encompassing both pharmacological and controlled dietary interventions. MEASUREMENTS: Each trial included in the analysis reported at least one of the required clinical outcomes (ADAS-Cog, CDR-SB or MMSE) and at least one of the required imaging outcomes (whole brain, ventricular or hippocampal volume). RESULTS: Data from 35 trials, comprising 185 pairwise comparisons, were included. Overall, the 95% confidence bounds overlapped with the line of identity for 150/185 (81%) of the imaging-clinical variable pairs. The greatest proportion of outliers was found in trials of anti-amyloid antibodies that have been shown to dramatically reduce the level of PET-detectable amyloid plaques, for which only 13/33 (39%) of observations overlapped the identity line. A Deming regression calculated using all data points yielded a slope of 0.54, whereas if data points from the amyloid remover class were excluded, the Deming regression line had a slope of 0.92. Directional discordance of treatment effects was also most pronounced for the amyloid-removing class, and for comparisons involving ventricular volume. CONCLUSION: Our results provide a frame of reference for the interpretation of clinical and brain atrophy results from future clinical trials and highlight the importance of mechanism of action in the interpretation of imaging results.

M. ten Kate ; F. Barkhof ; A.J. Schwarz ; (2023): Consistency between Treatment Effects on Clinical and Brain Atrophy Outcomes in Alzheimer’s Disease Trials. The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease (JPAD).


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