Voxel-based diffusion tensor imaging of an APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Mol Neurobiol. 2013 Aug;48(1):78-83. doi: 10.1007/s12035-013-8418-6. Epub 2013 Mar 6.


Increasing evidence has demonstrated that white matter (WM) disruptions, due to the injury of the axon and myelin, play an important role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a sensitive modality to evaluate the WM integrity in both AD patients and animal models. In this study, an advanced DTI modality, employing a 7.0-T magnetic resonance imaging system, was used to analyze WM changes across the whole brain of an amyloid precursor protein/presenilin 1 (APP/PS1) mouse model. A voxel-based analysis was used to compare the quantitative DTI parameters automatically in both APP/PS1 mice (n = 9) and wild-type (WT) controls (n = 9). After DTI examination, the ultrastructure analysis was compared with DTI findings. Compared with WT controls, gray matter (GM) areas in APP/PS1 mice such as the cingulate cortex and the striatum showed significant fractional anisotropy (FA) and axial diffusivity (DA) increase, while the thalamus only showed a significant FA increase (p < 0.01). Similarly, a significant mean diffusivity, DA, and radial diffusivity increase was observed in the bilateral neocortex (p < 0.01). The left hippocampus only showed significant FA increase in APP/PS1 mice (p < 0.01). The changes in WM regions were detected in the forceps minor of the corpus callosum, the anterior part of the anterior commissure, and the internal capsule, with a significant FA or DA increase (p < 0.01). Abnormalities derived from diffusion measurements were in-line with the ultrastructure findings, including extensive pathological damage of the neurons, neutrophils, and vessels. In conclusion, voxel-based diffusion tensor imaging can detect diffusion alterations not only in GM but also in WM areas in AD models, reflecting the extensive pathological changes of AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Anisotropy
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neocortex / pathology
  • Neocortex / ultrastructure
  • Presenilin-1 / metabolism*


  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Presenilin-1