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Hum Brain Mapp. 2016 Jan;37(1):35-53. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23018. Epub 2015 Oct 6.

Spatial patterns of atrophy, hypometabolism, and amyloid deposition in Alzheimer's disease correspond to dissociable functional brain networks.

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German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Gehlsheimer Str. 20, Rostock, 18147, Germany.
Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, University of Rostock, Gehlsheimer Str. 20, Rostock, 18147, Germany.


Recent neuroimaging studies of Alzheimer's disease (AD) have emphasized topographical similarities between AD-related brain changes and a prominent cortical association network called the default-mode network (DMN). However, the specificity of distinct imaging abnormalities for the DMN compared to other intrinsic connectivity networks (ICNs) of the limbic and heteromodal association cortex has not yet been examined systematically. We assessed regional amyloid load using AV45-PET, neuronal metabolism using FDG-PET, and gray matter volume using structural MRI in 473 participants from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, including preclinical, predementia, and clinically manifest AD stages. Complementary region-of-interest and voxel-based analyses were used to assess disease stage- and modality-specific changes within seven principle ICNs of the human brain as defined by a standardized functional connectivity atlas. Amyloid deposition in AD dementia showed a preference for the DMN, but high effect sizes were also observed for other neocortical ICNs, most notably the frontoparietal-control network. Atrophic changes were most specific for an anterior limbic network, followed by the DMN, whereas other neocortical networks were relatively spared. Hypometabolism appeared to be a mixture of both amyloid- and atrophy-related profiles. Similar patterns of modality-dependent network specificity were also observed in the predementia and, for amyloid deposition, in the preclinical stage. These quantitative data confirm a high vulnerability of the DMN for multimodal imaging abnormalities in AD. However, rather than being selective for the DMN, imaging abnormalities more generally affect higher order cognitive networks and, importantly, the vulnerability profiles of these networks markedly differ for distinct aspects of AD pathology.


AV45-PET; FDG-PET; default mode network; intrinsic connectivity networks; mild cognitive impairment; preclinical; predementia; resting-state functional MRI; voxel-based

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