Correlations between microstructural alterations and severity of cognitive deficiency in Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment: a diffusional kurtosis imaging study

Magn Reson Imaging. 2013 Jun;31(5):688-94. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2012.10.027. Epub 2013 Jan 22.


Object: Diffusional kurtosis imaging (DKI), a natural extension of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), can characterize non-Gaussian diffusion in the brain. We investigated the capability of DKI parameters for detecting microstructural changes in both gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) and sought to determine whether these DKI parameters could serve as imaging biomarkers to indicate the severity of cognitive deficiency.

Materials and methods: DKI was performed on 18AD patients and 12 MCI patients. Fractional anisotropy, kurtosis and diffusivity parameters in the temporal, parietal, frontal and occipital lobes were compared between the two groups using Mann-Whitney U test. The correlations between regional DKI parameters and mini-mental state examination (MMSE) score were tested using Pearson's correlation.

Results: In ADs, significantly increased diffusivity and decreased kurtosis parameters were observed in both the GM and WM of the parietal and occipital lobes as compared to MCIs. Significantly decreased fractional anisotropy was also observed in the WM of these lobes in ADs. With the exception of fractional anisotropy and radial kurtosis, all the five other DKI parameters exhibited significant correlations with MMSE score in both GM and WM.

Conclusion: Bearing additional information, the DKI model can provide sensitive imaging biomarkers for assessing the severity of cognitive deficiency in reference to MMSE score and potentially improve early detection and progression monitoring of AD based on characterizing microstructures in both the WM and especially the GM.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / complications*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / pathology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology*
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index