Gray Matter Atrophy in the Cerebellum-Evidence of Increased Vulnerability of the Crus and Vermis with Advancing Age

Cerebellum. 2017 Apr;16(2):388-397. doi: 10.1007/s12311-016-0813-x.


This study examined patterns of cerebellar volumetric gray matter (GM) loss across the adult lifespan in a large cross-sectional sample. Four hundred and seventy-nine healthy participants (age range: 7-86 years) were drawn from the Brain Resource International Database who provided T1-weighted MRI scans. The spatially unbiased infratentorial template (SUIT) toolbox in SPM8 was used for normalisation of the cerebellum structures. Global volumetric and voxel-based morphometry analyses were performed to evaluate age-associated trends and gender-specific age-patterns. Global cerebellar GM shows a cross-sectional reduction with advancing age of 2.5 % per decade-approximately half the rate seen in the whole brain. The male cerebellum is larger with a lower percentage of GM, however, after controlling for total brain volume, no gender difference was detected. Analysis of age-related changes in GM volume revealed large bilateral clusters involving the vermis and cerebellar crus where regional loss occurred at nearly twice the average cerebellar rate. No gender-specific patterns were detected. These data confirm that regionally specific GM loss occurs in the cerebellum with age, and form a solid base for further investigation to find functional correlates for this global and focal loss.

Keywords: BRAINnet; Cerebellum; Gray matter volume; Magnetic resonance imaging; Neurodevelopment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Atrophy / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebellum / growth & development
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging*
  • Gray Matter / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult