Structural brain changes in normal individuals with a maternal history of Alzheimer's

Neurobiol Aging. 2011 Dec;32(12):2325.e17-26. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.01.001. Epub 2011 Feb 12.


Having a parent affected with late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) is a major risk factor for developing the disease among cognitively normal (NL) individuals. This magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study examines whether NL with a LOAD-affected parent show preclinical brain atrophy, and whether there are parent-of-origin effects. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) on Statistical parametric mapping (SPM8) was used to examine volumetric T1-MRI scans of 60 late-middle-aged NL subjects, divided into 3 size-matched, demographically balanced groups of 20 subjects each, including NL with a maternal (FHm), paternal (FHp), or negative family history (FH-) of LOAD. There were no group differences for clinical and neuropsychological measures, and ApoE status. On VBM, FHm showed reduced gray matter volumes (GMV) in frontal, parietal, and temporal cortices and precuneus as compared with FH-, and in precuneus compared with FHp (p < 0.05, family-wise error [FWE]-corrected). Results remained significant controlling for age, gender, education, ApoE, and total intracranial volume. No differences were observed between FHp and FH- in any regions. NL FHm showed reduced GMV in LOAD-affected brain regions compared with FH- and FHp, indicating higher risk for Alzheimer's disease. Our findings support the use of regional brain atrophy as a preclinical biomarker for LOAD among at-risk individuals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Atrophy
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors