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Neuroimage Clin. 2013 Jul 27;3:180-95. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2013.07.006. eCollection 2013.

Effectiveness of regional DTI measures in distinguishing Alzheimer's disease, MCI, and normal aging.

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1
Imaging Genetics Center, Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, Department of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Abstract

The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) recently added diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), among several other new imaging modalities, in an effort to identify sensitive biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease (AD). While anatomical MRI is the main structural neuroimaging method used in most AD studies and clinical trials, DTI is sensitive to microscopic white matter (WM) changes not detectable with standard MRI, offering additional markers of neurodegeneration. Prior DTI studies of AD report lower fractional anisotropy (FA), and increased mean, axial, and radial diffusivity (MD, AxD, RD) throughout WM. Here we assessed which DTI measures may best identify differences among AD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and cognitively healthy elderly control (NC) groups, in region of interest (ROI) and voxel-based analyses of 155 ADNI participants (mean age: 73.5 ± 7.4; 90 M/65 F; 44 NC, 88 MCI, 23 AD). Both VBA and ROI analyses revealed widespread group differences in FA and all diffusivity measures. DTI maps were strongly correlated with widely-used clinical ratings (MMSE, CDR-sob, and ADAS-cog). When effect sizes were ranked, FA analyses were least sensitive for picking up group differences. Diffusivity measures could detect more subtle MCI differences, where FA could not. ROIs showing strongest group differentiation (lowest p-values) included tracts that pass through the temporal lobe, and posterior brain regions. The left hippocampal component of the cingulum showed consistently high effect sizes for distinguishing groups, across all diffusivity and anisotropy measures, and in correlations with cognitive scores.

KEYWORDS:

ADNI, Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative; Alzheimer's disease; AxD, axial diffusivity; Biomarkers; Clinical scores; DTI; MCI; NC, normal control; RD, radial diffusivity; White matter

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