Diffusion tensor imaging in early Alzheimer's disease

Olivier Naggara, Catherine Oppenheim, Dorothée Rieu, Nadine Raoux, Sebastian Rodrigo, Gianfranco Dalla Barba, Jean-François Meder
Psychiatry Research 2006 April 30, 146 (3): 243-9
Our aim was to investigate the extent of white matter tissue damage in patients with early Alzheimer disease (AD) using diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTI). Although AD pathology mainly affects cortical grey matter, previous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies showed that changes also exist in the white matter (WM). However, the nature of AD-associated WM damage is still unclear. Conventional and DTI examinations (b=1000 s/mm(2), 25 directions) were obtained from 12 patients with early AD (Mini Mental State Examination [MMSE] score=27, Grober and Buschke test score=33.2, digit span score=5.6) and 12 sex- and age-matched volunteers. The right and left mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA) of several WM regions were pooled in each patient and control, and compared between the two groups. Volumes of the whole brain and degree of atrophy of the temporal lobe were compared between the two groups. In AD, MD was increased in the splenium of the corpus callosum and in the WM in the frontal and parietal lobes. FA was bilaterally decreased in the WM of the temporal lobe, the frontal lobe and the splenium compared with corresponding regions in controls. Values in other areas (occipital area, superior temporal area, cingulum, internal capsule, and genu of the corpus callosum) were not different between patients and controls. No correlations were found between the MMSE score and the anisotropy indices. Findings of DTI reveal abnormalities in the frontal and temporal WM in early AD patients. These changes are compatible with early temporal-to-frontal disconnections.

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