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Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2019 Oct 1;11:690-699. doi: 10.1016/j.dadm.2019.08.001. eCollection 2019 Dec.

Asymmetrical atrophy of thalamic subnuclei in Alzheimer's disease and amyloid-positive mild cognitive impairment is associated with key clinical features.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
2
Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Introduction:

Although widespread cortical asymmetries have been identified in Alzheimer's disease (AD), thalamic asymmetries and their relevance to clinical severity in AD remain unclear.

Methods:

Lateralization indices were computed for individual thalamic subnuclei of 65 participants (33 healthy controls, 14 amyloid-positive patients with mild cognitive impairment, and 18 patients with AD dementia). We compared lateralization indices across diagnostic groups and correlated them with clinical measures.

Results:

Although overall asymmetry of the thalamus did not differ between groups, greater leftward lateralization of atrophy in the ventral nuclei was demonstrated in AD, compared with controls and amyloid-positive mild cognitive impairment. Increased posterior ventrolateral and ventromedial nuclei asymmetry were associated with worse cognitive dysfunction, informant-reported neuropsychiatric symptoms, and functional ability.

Discussion:

Leftward ventral thalamic atrophy was associated with disease severity in AD. Our findings suggest the clinically relevant involvement of thalamic nuclei in the pathophysiology of AD.

KEYWORDS:

Alzheimer's disease; Cognitive aging; Magnetic resonance imaging; Mild cognitive impairment; Thalamus

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