Voxel-based detection of white matter abnormalities in mild Alzheimer disease

S Xie, J X Xiao, G L Gong, Y F Zang, Y H Wang, H K Wu, X X Jiang
Neurology 2006 June 27, 66 (12): 1845-9

OBJECTIVE: To detect white matter abnormalities in patients with mild Alzheimer disease (AD) by diffusion tensor imaging and to determine their topographic relationship with gray matter atrophy.

METHODS: Thirteen patients with mild AD and 16 normal age-matched volunteers underwent diffusion tensor imaging and three-dimensional spoiled gradient-recalled sequence scanning. Voxel-based morphometry was conducted to detect regions of gray matter atrophy in the AD group relative to the control group. Fractional anisotropy (FA) maps were processed using SPM2 to make voxel-wise comparison of anisotropy in whole brain between the two groups. The relationship between locations of abnormalities in the white and gray matter was examined.

RESULTS: Significant reductions in anisotropy were found in the white matter of both medial temporal lobes, bilateral temporal stems, bilateral superior longitudinal fasciculi, bilateral internal capsules, and cerebral peduncles, as well as the white matter of left middle temporal gyrus and right superior parietal lobule, the body and genu of the corpus callosum, and the right lateral capsule in patients with AD. Although the decrease in FA was consistent with cortical volumetric reduction in both temporal lobes, the widespread involvement of bilateral superior longitudinal fasciculi was dominant in these white matter findings.

CONCLUSIONS: Voxel-wise comparison of whole-brain anisotropy revealed widely distributed disintegration of white matter in mild Alzheimer disease (AD). The white matter shows a different pattern of degeneration from gray matter and may be an independent factor in the progress of AD.

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