We assessed patterns of gray matter atrophy according to-age-at-onset in a large sample of 215 Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and 129 control subjects with voxel-based morphometry using 3-Tesla 3D T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. Local gray matter amounts were compared between late- and early-onset AD patients and older and younger control subjects, taking into account the effect of apolipoprotein E. Additionally, combined effects of age and diagnosis on volumes of hippocampus and precuneus were assessed. Compared with age-matched control subjects, late-onset AD patients exhibited atrophy of the hippocampus, right temporal lobe, and cerebellum, whereas early-onset AD patients showed gray matter atrophy in hippocampus, temporal lobes, precuneus, cingulate gyrus, and inferior frontal cortex. Direct comparisons between late- and early-onset AD patients revealed more pronounced atrophy of precuneus in early-onset AD patients and more severe atrophy in medial temporal lobe in late-onset AD patients. Age and diagnosis independently affected the hippocampus; moreover, the interaction between age and diagnosis showed that precuneus atrophy was most prominent in early-onset AD patients. Our results suggest that patterns of atrophy might vary in the spectrum of AD.
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