People with Down syndrome (DS) are at high risk for developing Alzheimer disease (AD). Neuropathology consistent with AD is present by 40 years of age and dementia may develop up to a decade later. In this review, we describe metabolic and vascular neuroimaging studies in DS that suggest these functional changes are a key feature of aging, linked to cognitive decline and AD in this vulnerable cohort. FDG-PET imaging in DS suggests systematic reductions in glucose metabolism in posterior cingulate and parietotemporal cortex. Magentic resonance spectroscopy studies show consistent decreases in neuronal health and increased myoinositol, suggesting inflammation. There are few vascular imaging studies in DS suggesting a gap in our knowledge. Future studies would benefit from longitudinal measures and combining various imaging approaches to identify early signs of dementia in DS that may be amenable to intervention.

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Published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, v. 10, article 191, p. 1-10.

Copyright © 2018 Head, Powell and Schmitt.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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The authors are supported by NIH/NICHD R01HD064993.