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Pol J Radiol. 2010 Apr;75(2):7-14.

Assessment of degradation of the selected projectile, commissural and association brain fibers in patients with Alzheimer's disease on diffusion tensor MR imaging.

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Department of General Radiology, Interventional Radiology, and Neuroradiology, Radiology Department, Wrocław Medical University, Wrocław, Poland.



Pathological examinations and the increasingly popular diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) show that in Alzheimer's disease (AD), the pathology involves not only the cortical and hippocampal structures, but also the white matter of the brain. DTI is a well recognized technique for evaluation of the integrity of white matter fibers. The aim of this study was to assess with the use of DTI some selected brain tracts in patients with AD, as well as to analyze the severity and distribution of the identified changes.


Thirty-five patients with AD (mean age of 71.6 years, MMSE 17.6), and a control group of 15 healthy volunteers (mean age of 69.1 years, MMSE 29.8) were enrolled in the study. All patients were subjected to a thorough psychiatric examination and psychological tests. DTI examinations (TE 8500, TR 100) were performed using a 1.5T MR scanner. Fractional anisotropy (FA) measurements in the selected areas of interest (ROI) of the white matter fibers were performed under the control of color FA maps. The following fibers were evaluated - the middle cerebellar peduncles (MCP), the inferior longitudinal fasciculi (ILF), inferior frontooccipital fasciculi (IFO), genu (GCC) and splenium of the corpus callosum (SCC), posterior limbs of internal capsules (PLIC), superior longitudinal fasciculi (SLF) and posterior cingula (CG).


There was a statistically significant decrease in FA in patients with AD, comparing to the control group. It was particularly strongly expressed in both CG (P<0.0001), followed by both ILF, right IFO, and left SLF. Less pronounced changes were found in GCC, SCC, and left IFO. In both PLICs and MCPs and in the right SLF, there was no significant change of FA.


In Alzheimer's disease, there is a significant decrease in FA, which suggests degradation of the majority of the assessed white matter tracts. Distribution of these changes is not uniform. They involve the selected association fibers mainly and, to a lesser extent, the commissural fibers, while they are not found in the pyramidal tracts or medial cerebellar peduncles. Definitely, the most pronounced changes were found in the posterior cingula, the assessment of which (in the process of AD diagnostics) seems to be particularly promising.


Alzheimer’s disease; diffusion tensor imaging; fractional anisotropy; white matter

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