IMAGING + NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES
Omar Al-Louzi, MD
Director, Visual Outcomes
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, PhD
Professor of Neurosurgery and Biomedical Sciences
Cutting-edge imaging techniques have the potential to revolutionize diagnosis, disease prediction and progression tracking for a wealth of neurological conditions, including multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The eyes now give neurologists a detailed view of brain plaques, inflammation, and vascular and structural changes, which may precede or correlate with signs of neurodegeneration and alterations in cognitive function.
Observing these abnormalities can improve diagnostic precision for challenging differential diagnoses, as in MS, and identify presymptomatic hallmark signs of Alzheimer’s such as amyloid plaque deposits and vascular damage.
"We are studying chronic inflammation around veins and at the edge of MS lesions using advanced MRI technology, which we believe will significantly improve our ability to diagnose, predict response to treatment and even predict risk of long-term disability in MS."
— Omar Al-Louzi, MD
"Retinal imaging has been so helpful in assessing plaques and vascular-structural integrity that we are combining it with visual testing to gain a more comprehensive understanding of clinical status in patients with Alzheimer’s disease."
— Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, PhD
Just the Beginning
Ongoing Cedars-Sinai studies apply retinal optical fundus imaging and optical coherence tomography of amyloid deposits and vascular and tissue-structure parameters. This complements the use of advanced MRI imaging of iron accumulation, microvasculature changes and neuroinflammatory markers in clinical monitoring of patients with MS, dementia, Alzheimer’s, myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody-associated disease and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder.
As these imaging techniques progress via investigator-initiated preclinical and clinical trials, results could lead to improved outcome measures for trials and create a new, noninvasive standard of disease diagnosis and monitoring for numerous neurological diseases.
Physician-scientists are pioneering imaging techniques and investigating new biomarkers to improve MS diagnosis and treatment.