Structural degeneration of the nucleus basalis of Meynert in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease - Evidence from an MRI-based meta-analysis


Recent models of Alzheimer's disease (AD) suggest that neuropathological changes of the medial temporal lobe, especially entorhinal cortex, are preceded by degenerations of the cholinergic Nucleus basalis of Meynert (NbM). Evidence from imaging studies in humans, however, is limited. Therefore, we performed an activation-likelihood estimation meta-analysis on whole brain voxel-based morphometry (VBM) MRI data from 54 experiments and 2581 subjects in total. It revealed, compared to healthy older controls, reduced gray matter in the bilateral NbM in AD, but only limited evidence for such an effect in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which typically precedes AD. Both patient groups showed less gray matter in the amygdala and hippocampus, with hints towards more pronounced amygdala effects in AD. We discuss our findings in the context of studies that highlight the importance of the cholinergic basal forebrain in learning and memory throughout the lifespan, and conclude that they are partly compatible with pathological staging models suggesting initial and pronounced structural degenerations within the NbM in the progression of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105393
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Pages (from-to)105393
Publication statusPublished - 11.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)

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