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Neurology. 1997 Apr;48(4):978-85.

Midline cerebral morphometry distinguishes frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA, USA.


We investigated and contrasted midline cerebral structures in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). FTD and AD may be difficult to distinguish clinically. FTD typically affects frontal and anterior temporal regions, whereas AD tends to involve more posterior temporal and parietal areas. We hypothesized that disease-specific cerebral alterations would be differentially reflected in corresponding regions of the corpus callosum (CC), pericallosal CSF space (PCS), or their ratio (CC:PCS). Regions-of-interest (ROIs) from midsagittal MRIs in 17 AD, 16 FTD, and 12 elderly control (EC) subjects were analyzed. ROIs were divided into four regions using an anatomic landmark-based computer algorithm and were adjusted for head size variation. FTD subjects had a much smaller anterior CC region and significantly larger PCS area, particularly in anterior regions. AD and EC subjects did not differ significantly in any total or regional ROI measure. Total and anterior CC:PCS ratios were markedly lower in FTD patients. Across groups, total CC:PCS correlated significantly with midsagittal cerebral area and was similarly associated with Mini-Mental State Examination score. Anterior CC (AD) and PCS (FTD) regions exhibited disease-specific relationships to these variables. A discriminant model using two ROI variables correctly classified 91% of AD and FTD patients, comparing favorably with blind clinical MRI diagnostic ratings. Midline cerebral structural alterations reflect differential patterns of cerebral degeneration in AD and FTD, yielding morphometric indices that may facilitate the study of brain-behavior relationships and differential diagnosis of dementia.

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