Gray and white matter changes in Alzheimer's disease: a diffusion tensor imaging study

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2008 Jan;27(1):20-6. doi: 10.1002/jmri.21231.


Purpose: To investigate microstructural changes in cortical and white matter pathways in patients with Alzheimer's disease using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).

Materials and methods: Measures of mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA) were compared in the brains of 13 Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and a group of 13 aged-matched control participants employing an optimized DTI technique involving a fully automated, voxel-based morphometric (VBM) analysis.

Results: After rigorous control for anatomical variation and confounding partial volume effects, we found significantly elevated MD measures within the hippocampus, amygdala, and medial temporal, parietal, and frontal lobe gray matter regions in the AD participants. The largest number of pixels with increased MD was localized bilaterally, within the posterior cingulate gyrus. The FA was significantly reduced within the thalamus, parietal white matter, and posterior limbs of the internal capsule, indicating significant involvement of corticothalamic and thalamocortical radiations.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that rigorous VBM analysis of DTI data can be used to investigate microstructural changes in cortical, subcortical, and white matter regions in AD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Anisotropy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests