Regional white matter decreases in Alzheimer's disease using optimized voxel-based morphometry

Shuyu Li, Fang Pu, Feng Shi, Sheng Xie, Yinhua Wang, Tianzi Jiang
Acta Radiologica 2008, 49 (1): 84-90

BACKGROUND: Most studies that attempt to clarify structural abnormalities related to functional disconnection in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) have focused on exploring pathological changes in cortical gray matter. However, white matter fibers connecting these cerebral areas may also be abnormal.

PURPOSE: To investigate the regional changes of white matter volume in patients with AD compared to healthy subjects.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: White matter volume changes in whole-brain magnetic resonance images acquired from 19 patients with AD and 20 healthy subjects (control group) were observed using the optimized voxel-based morphometry (VBM) method. In addition, the corpus callosum (CC) of AD patients and the control group was investigated further by outlining manually the boundary of the CC on a midsagittal slice. Each area of the CC was then corrected by dividing each subject's intracranial area in the midsagittal plane.

RESULTS: Compared with the control group, AD patients showed significantly reduced white matter volumes in the posterior part of the CC and the temporal lobe in the left and right hemispheres. Moreover, the voxel showing peak statistical difference in the posterior of the CC was left sided. The five subdivisions of the CC were also significantly smaller among the AD patients relative to the control group.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that these abnormalities in white matter regions may contribute to the functional disconnections in AD.

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