The relative importance of imaging markers for the prediction of Alzheimer’s disease dementia in mild cognitive impairment: The curse of dimensionality


      Selecting a set of relevant markers to predict conversion from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has become a challenging task given the wealth of regional pathologic information that can be extracted from multimodal imaging data.


      We used regularized regression approaches with an elastic net penalty for best subset selection of multiregional information from AV45-PET, FDG-PET and volumetric MRI data to predict conversion from MCI to AD. The study sample consisted of 127 MCI subjects from ADNI-2 who had a clinical follow-up between 6 and 31 months. Additional analyses assessed the effect of partial volume correction on predictive performance of AV45- and FDG-PET data.


      Predictor variables were highly collinear within and across imaging modalities (see Figure 1). Penalized Cox regression yielded more parsimonious and neurobiologically plausible prediction models compared to unpenalized Cox regression. Within single modalities, time to conversion was best predicted by increased AV45-PET signal in posterior medial and lateral cortical regions, decreased FDG-PET signal in medial temporal and temporobasal regions, and reduced gray matter volume in medial, basal, and lateral temporal regions. Logistic regression models reached up to 72% cross-validated accuracy for prediction of conversion status, which was comparable to cross-validated accuracy of non-linear support vector machine classification. Regularized regression outperformed unpenalized stepwise regression when number of parameters approached or exceeded the number of training cases. Partial volume correction had a negative effect on the predictive performance of AV45-PET, but slightly improved the predictive value of FDG-PET data.


      Penalized regression yielded more parsimonious models than unpenalized stepwise regression for the integration of multiregional and multimodal imaging information. The advantage of penalized regression was particularly strong with a high number of collinear predictors.
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      Figure 1Cross-correlation matrix across AV45-PET regions