Pattern of structural and functional brain abnormalities in asymptomatic granulin mutation carriers

Alzheimers Dement. 2014 Oct;10(5 Suppl):S354-S363.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2013.09.009. Epub 2014 Jan 10.


Background: To investigate the patterns of brain atrophy, white matter (WM) tract changes, and functional connectivity (FC) abnormalities in asymptomatic granulin (GRN) mutation carriers.

Methods: Ten cognitively normal subjects (five mutation carriers, GRN+; years to estimated disease onset: 12±7; five mutation noncarriers, GRN-) underwent a clinical and imaging (structural, diffusion tensor, and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging) assessment. Brain atrophy was measured with cortical thickness analysis, WM abnormalities with tract-based spatial statistics, and FC with independent component analysis.

Results: GRN+ showed smaller cortical thickness than GRN- in the right orbitofrontal and precentral gyrus and left rostral middle frontal gyrus. WM tracts abnormalities were limited to increased axial diffusivity in the right cingulum, superior longitudinal fasciculus, and corticospinal tract. There were no differences in FC of resting-state networks.

Conclusion: Brain atrophy and WM tract abnormalities in frontal-parietal circuits can be detected at least a decade before the estimated symptom onset in asymptomatic mutation carriers.

Keywords: Cortical thickness; Diffusion tensor; FTLD; Magnetic resonance imaging; Progranulin; Resting-state functional MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Brain / abnormalities*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Female
  • Heterozygote*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Neural Pathways / abnormalities
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Organ Size
  • Progranulins
  • Rest
  • White Matter / abnormalities
  • White Matter / physiopathology


  • GRN protein, human
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Progranulins