Diffusion tensor metrics, T2 relaxation, and volumetry of the naturally aging human caudate nuclei in healthy young and middle-aged adults: possible implications for the neurobiology of human brain aging and disease

Magn Reson Med. 2008 Jan;59(1):7-13. doi: 10.1002/mrm.21434.


In this study of a cohort of 33 young and middle-age adults (19-59 years) we report simultaneous measurements of normal age-related changes in the caudate nuclei volume, diffusion tensor metrics, and T(2) relaxation time. Both the absolute caudate volume and its ratio relative to the total intracranial volume decreased rapidly with age in both men and women (r = -0.55; P < 0.001). The fractional diffusion tensor anisotropy of the caudate nuclei increased with age in both males and females (r = 0.48; P = 0.005). The corresponding age correlations of the caudate axial (r = 0.17; P = 0.35), transverse (r = -0.12; P = 0.50), mean diffusivities (r = 0.018; P = 0.92), and T(2) relaxation times (r = 0.194; P = 0.28) were weaker and did not reach statistical significance (P > 0.05). Our preliminary findings warrant further studies on the older and aging adults and indicate that caudate diffusion tensor imaging-derived metrics can be used as surrogates in modeling the neuronal substrates of gray matter atrophy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anisotropy
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Caudate Nucleus / anatomy & histology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Statistics, Nonparametric