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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Neurological Disorders - Non-Clinical Medicine - Radiology and Medical Imaging

Cost-Effectiveness of Magnetic Resonance Imaging with a New Contrast Agent for the Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012
Author: Maria Biasutti et al.

by Maria Biasutti, Natacha Dufour, Clotilde Ferroud, William Dab, Laura Temime


Used as contrast agents for brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), markers for beta-amyloid deposits might allow early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). We evaluated the cost-effectiveness of such a diagnostic test, MRI+CLP (contrastophore-linker-pharmacophore), should it become clinically available.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We compared the cost-effectiveness of MRI+CLP to that of standard diagnosis using currently available cognition tests and of standard MRI, and investigated the impact of a hypothetical treatment efficient in early AD. The primary analysis was based on the current French context for 70-year-old patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). In alternative “screen and treat” scenarios, we analyzed the consequences of systematic screenings of over-60 individuals (either population-wide or restricted to the ApoE4 genotype population). We used a Markov model of AD progression; model parameters, as well as incurred costs and quality-of-life weights in France were taken from the literature. We performed univariate and probabilistic multivariate sensitivity analyses.The base-case preferred strategy was the standard MRI diagnosis strategy. In the primary analysis however, MRI+CLP could become the preferred strategy under a wide array of scenarios involving lower cost and/or higher sensitivity or specificity. By contrast, in the “screen and treat” analyses, the probability of MRI+CLP becoming the preferred strategy remained lower than 5%.


It is thought that anti-beta-amyloid compounds might halt the development of dementia in early stage patients. This study suggests that, even should such treatments become available, systematically screening the over-60 population for AD would only become cost-effective with highly specific tests able to diagnose early stages of the disease. However, offering a new diagnostic test based on beta-amyloid markers to elderly patients with MCI might prove cost-effective.