Different Patterns of Correlation between Grey and White Matter Integrity Account for Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms in Alzheimer's Disease

J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;50(2):591-604. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150612.


Behavioral disorders and psychological symptoms (BPSD) in Alzheimer's disease (AD) are known to correlate with grey matter (GM) atrophy and, as shown recently, also with white matter (WM) damage. WM damage and its relationship with GM atrophy are reported in AD, reinforcing the interpretation of the AD pathology in light of a disconnection syndrome. It remains uncertain whether this disconnection might account also for different BPSD observable in AD. Here, we tested the hypothesis of different patterns of association between WM damage of the corpus callosum (CC) and GM atrophy in AD patients exhibiting one of the following BPSD clusters: Mood (i.e., anxiety and depression; ADmood), Frontal (i.e., dishinibition and elation; ADfrontal), and Psychotic (delusions and hallucinations; ADpsychotic) related symptoms, as well as AD patients without BPSD. Overall, this study brings to light the strict relationship between WM alterations in different parts of the CC and GM atrophy in AD patients exhibiting BPSD, supporting the hypothesis that such symptoms are likely to be caused by characteristic patterns of neurodegeneration of WM and GM, rather than being a reactive response to accumulation of cognitive disabilities, and should therefore be regarded as potential markers of diagnostic and prognostic value in AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; behavioral; grey matter; magnetic resonance imaging; white matter.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / pathology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / pathology*
  • Hallucinations / complications
  • Hallucinations / pathology
  • Hallucinations / psychology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • White Matter / pathology*