Assuming selective vulnerability of short association U-fibers in early Alzheimer's disease (AD), we quantified demyelination of the surface white matter (dSWM) with magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) in 15 patients (Clinical Dementia Rating Scale [CDR] 0.5-1; Functional Assessment Staging [FAST]: 3-4) compared with 15 controls. MTRs were computed for 39 areas in each hemisphere. We found a bilateral MTR decrease in the temporal, cingulate, parietal, and prefrontal areas. With linear discriminant analysis, we successfully classified all the participants with 3 variates including the cuneus, parahippocampal, and superior temporal regions of the left hemisphere. The pattern of dSWM changed with the age of AD onset. In early onset patients, we found bilateral posterior demyelination spreading to the temporal areas in the left hemisphere. The late onset patients showed a distributed bilateral pattern with the temporal and cingulate areas strongly affected. A correlation with Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), Lexis, and memory tests revealed the dSWM impact on cognition. A specific landscape of dSWM in early AD shows the potential of MTR imaging as an in vivo biomarker superior to currently used techniques.
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