Robustly uncovering the heterogeneity of neurodegenerative disease by using data-driven subtyping in neuroimaging: A review.


Neurodegenerative diseases are associated with heterogeneity in genetics, pathology, and clinical manifestation. Understanding this heterogeneity is particularly relevant for clinical prognosis and stratifying patients for disease modifying treatments. Recently, data-driven methods based on neuroimaging have been applied to investigate the subtyping of neurodegenerative disease, helping to disentangle this heterogeneity. We reviewed brain-based subtyping studies in aging and representative neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, frontotemporal dementia, and Lewy body dementia, from January 2000 to November 2022. We summarized clustering methods, validation, robustness, reproducibility, and clinical relevance of 71 eligible studies in the present study. We found vast variations in approaches between studies, including ten neuroimaging modalities, 24 cluster algorithms, and 41 methods of cluster number determination. The clinical relevance of subtyping studies was evaluated by summarizing the analysis method of clinical measurements, showing a relatively low clinical utility in the current studies. Finally, we conclude that future studies of heterogeneity in neurodegenerative disease should focus on validation, comparison between subtyping approaches, and prioritise clinical utility.