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Neurobiol Aging. 2005 Aug-Sep;26(8):1215-27. Epub 2004 Dec 19.

Age-related alterations in white matter microstructure measured by diffusion tensor imaging.

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1
MGH/MIT/HMS Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Charlestown, MA 02129-2060, USA. salat@nmr.mgh.harvard.edu

Abstract

Cerebral white matter (WM) undergoes various degenerative changes with normal aging, including decreases in myelin density and alterations in myelin structure. We acquired whole-head, high-resolution diffusion tensor images (DTI) in 38 participants across the adult age span. Maps of fractional anisotropy (FA), a measure of WM microstructure, were calculated for each participant to determine whether particular fiber systems of the brain are preferentially vulnerable to WM degeneration. Regional FA measures were estimated from nine regions of interest in each hemisphere and from the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum (CC). The results showed significant age-related decline in FA in frontal WM, the posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC), and the genu of the CC. In contrast, temporal and posterior WM was relatively preserved. These findings suggest that WM alterations are variable throughout the brain and that particular fiber populations within prefrontal region and PLIC are most vulnerable to age-related degeneration.

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