Due to a change in disease spectrum in aged countries, the primary role of geriatricians should be directed to an appropriate management and prevention of 1) cognitive decline and dementia, 2) swallowing and aspiration pneumonia and 3) falls and fractures. Management of dementia constitutes a central part in the practice of geriatric medicine in order to support independence of life in elderly people. The current paradigm of cognitive function-based testing for the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is going to drastically shift to a biomarker-based test approach, a shift that will correspond to the emergence of disease-modifying drugs. In addition, a new molecular imaging technique that visualizes neuronal protein deposits or pathological features has been developed in Japan and the U.S.A. Based on these achievements, the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) was proposed and initiated in 2005. The ADNI is a long-term observational study being conducted in the U.S.A., Europe, Australia, and Japan using identical protocols. The objectives of ADNI are: 1) to establish methodology which will allow standard values related to long-term changes in imaging data, such as MRI and PET, in patients with AD and mild cognitive impairment and normal elderly persons; 2) to obtain clinical indices, psychological test data, and blood/cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers to demonstrate the validity of image-based surrogate markers; and 3) to establish optimum methods to monitor the therapeutic effects of disease-modifying drugs for AD. Patient enrollment in the Japanese ADNI has begun in July 2008. Imaging of AD pathology not only acts as a reliable biomarker with which to assay curative drug development by novel pharmaceutical companies, but it also helps health promotion toward AD prevention.
2010 Tohoku University Medical Press