Regional coherence changes in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease: a combined structural and resting-state functional MRI study

Neuroimage. 2007 Apr 1;35(2):488-500. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.11.042. Epub 2007 Jan 24.


Recent functional imaging studies have indicated that the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD) can be associated with the changes in spontaneous low-frequency (<0.08 Hz) blood oxygenation level-dependent fluctuations (LFBF) measured during a resting state. The purpose of this study was to examine regional LFBF coherence patterns in early AD and the impact of regional brain atrophy on the functional results. Both structural MRI and resting-state functional MRI scans were collected from 14 AD subjects and 14 age-matched normal controls. We found significant regional coherence decreases in the posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus (PCC/PCu) in the AD patients when compared with the normal controls. Moreover, the decrease in the PCC/PCu coherence was correlated with the disease progression measured by the Mini-Mental State Exam scores. The changes in LFBF in the PCC/PCu may be related to the resting hypometabolism in this region commonly detected in previous positron emission tomography studies of early AD. When the regional PCC/PCu atrophy was controlled, these results still remained significant but with a decrease in the statistical power, suggesting that the LFBF results are at least partly explained by the regional atrophy. In addition, we also found increased LFBF coherence in the bilateral cuneus, right lingual gyrus and left fusiform gyrus in the AD patients. These regions are consistent with previous findings of AD-related increased activation during cognitive tasks explained in terms of a compensatory-recruitment hypothesis. Finally, our study indicated that regional brain atrophy could be an important consideration in functional imaging studies of neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male