Cingulum fiber diffusivity and CSF T-tau in patients with subjective and mild cognitive impairment

Vidar Stenset, Atle Bjørnerud, Anders M Fjell, Kristine B Walhovd, Dag Hofoss, Paulina Due-Tønnessen, Leif Gjerstad, Tormod Fladby
Neurobiology of Aging 2011, 32 (4): 581-9
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and CSF biomarkers are useful diagnostic tools to differentiate patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) from normal controls, and may help predict conversion to dementia. Total Tau protein (T-tau) and DTI parameters are both markers for axonal damage, thus it is of interest to determine if DTI parameters are associated with elevated CSF T-tau levels in patients with cognitive impairment. For this purpose, patients with subjective cognitive impairment (SCI) and MCI were recruited from a university based memory clinic. Regions of interest were used to determine fractional anisotropy (FA), radial diffusivity (DR) and axial diffusivity (DA) in known white matter tracts in patients with MCI (n=39) and SCI (n=8) and 26 cognitively healthy controls. Significant lower FA and higher DR values were observed in patients with pathological vs. patients with normal CSF T-tau levels and vs. controls in left posterior cingulum fibers. T-tau values were negatively correlated with FA and positively correlated with DR values in the posterior cingulum fibers. Cingulum fiber diffusivity was related to T-tau pathology in SCI/MCI patients and altered DR may suggest that loss of myelin contributes to early white matter changes in patients at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD).

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