Purpose: To investigate brain perfusion at single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) as a function of age and sex in healthy adult volunteers and to correlate perfusion with gray matter concentration determined by using voxel-based morphometry (VBM).
Materials and methods: Eighty-one healthy volunteers underwent both technetium 99m ethylene cysteine dimer SPECT and three-dimensional magnetization preparation rapid acquisition gradient-echo magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Statistical parametric mapping was used to conduct VBM analysis of the morphologic data, which were compared voxel by voxel with the results of a similar analysis of the perfusion data and more specifically in brain areas showing significant perfusion changes.
Results: VBM data, as compared with perfusion changes, indicated a more symmetric age-related gray matter volume decrease along the Sylvian fissure and in subcortical regions (P < .001). The combination of functional and structural changes indicated a relatively lower functional decrease with aging, as compared with the structural atrophy in the visual, parietal, sensorimotor, and right prefrontal cortices. Significant relative morphologic sex-based differences were found in the cerebellar and temporal cortices, but the comparison did not reveal significant differences between the functional and morphometric data.
Conclusion: Age-related perfusion changes are paralleled by similar more symmetric changes in gray matter concentration, which are more prominent than the perfusion changes in some regions. No sex-based differences between perfusion and gray matter concentration were found.