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Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Jun;33(6):1023-33. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2010.09.021. Epub 2010 Nov 12.

Early and late onset Alzheimer's disease patients have distinct patterns of white matter damage.

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Neuroimaging Research Unit, Institute of Experimental Neurology, Division of Neuroscience, Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.


We investigated patterns of white matter (WM) loss in 18 early onset (EO) and 24 late onset (LO) Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients compared with 42 healthy controls (HC), and explored relationships of WM atrophy and apolipoprotein E (ApoE) genotype. Subjects underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Patterns of WM were assessed using voxel-based morphometry. Compared with healthy controls, LOAD patients had a selective parahippocampal WM loss, while EOAD patients experienced a more widespread pattern of posterior WM atrophy. The distinct regional distribution of WM atrophy reflected the topography of gray matter (GM) loss. ApoE ε4 status was associated with a greater parahippocampal WM loss in both AD groups. The greater WM atrophy in EOAD than LOAD fits with the evidence that EOAD is a more aggressive form of the disease. The ApoE ε4 effect on WM damage in AD is restricted to specific WM regions and does not seem to be related to age of onset.

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