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J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;29(3):605-13. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-111622.

Sulcal span in Azheimer's disease, amnestic mild cognitive impairment, and healthy controls.

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  • 1Univ Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, UMR 740 INSERM, Paris, France.


Differences of cortical morphology between healthy controls (HC), amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been repeatedly investigated using voxel-based morphometry (VBM). However, the results obtained using mainly VBM remain difficult to interpret as they can be explained by various mechanisms. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the differences of cortical morphology between HC, MCI, and AD patients using a new post-processing method based on reconstruction and identification of cortical sulci. Thirty HC, 33 MCI, and 30 AD patients were randomly selected from the ADNI database. For each subject, cortical sulci were reconstructed and automatically identified using Brainvisa software. Depth and fold opening of nine large sulci were compared between HC, MCI, and AD patients. Fold opening of parietaloccipital fissure and intraparietal sulcus on both sides strongly differed between the 3 groups, with gradual increase from HC to MCI of about 1 mm and from MCI to AD of about 2 mm (right intraparietal: p = 0.005; left intraparietal: p = 0.004; right parietaloccipital: p = 0.003; left parietaloccipital: p = 0.0009). Results were left unchanged after adjustment for age, gender, and level of education. These variables were also strongly linked to neuropsychological scores, independent of age, gender, and level of education. In the present study, we found important regional differences of cortical morphology with gradual deterioration from HC to MCI to AD. The most important differences were found in parietaloccipital fissure and intraparietal sulcus. Further studies are needed to understand the involved underlying mechanisms.

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