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Neurobiol Aging. 2015 Jan;36 Suppl 1:S203-10. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.01.154. Epub 2014 Aug 30.

Higher homocysteine associated with thinner cortical gray matter in 803 participants from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, Imaging Genetics Center, Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
2
Department of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
3
Department of Neurology, Imaging Genetics Center, Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Semel Institute, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA. Electronic address: pthomp@usc.edu.

Abstract

A significant portion of our risk for dementia in old age is associated with lifestyle factors (diet, exercise, and cardiovascular health) that are modifiable, at least in principle. One such risk factor, high-homocysteine levels in the blood, is known to increase risk for Alzheimer's disease and vascular disorders. Here, we set out to understand how homocysteine levels relate to 3D surface-based maps of cortical gray matter distribution (thickness, volume, and surface area) computed from brain magnetic resonance imaging in 803 elderly subjects from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative data set. Individuals with higher plasma levels of homocysteine had lower gray matter thickness in bilateral frontal, parietal, occipital, and right temporal regions and lower gray matter volumes in left frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital regions, after controlling for diagnosis, age, and sex and after correcting for multiple comparisons. No significant within-group associations were found in cognitively healthy people, patients with mild cognitive impairment, or patients with Alzheimer's disease. These regional differences in gray matter structure may be useful biomarkers to assess the effectiveness of interventions, such as vitamin B supplements, that aim to prevent homocysteine-related brain atrophy by normalizing homocysteine levels.

KEYWORDS:

Alzheimer's disease; Atrophy; Brain structure; Cortical; Folate; Gray matter; Homocysteine; MRI; Surface area; Thickness; Vitamin B; Volume

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