Aging is known to have deleterious effects on cerebral white matter, yet little is known about these white matter alterations in advanced age. In this study, 94 oldest-old adults without dementia (90-103 years) underwent diffusion tensor imaging to assess relationships between chronological age and multiple measures of integrity in 18 white matter regions across the brain. Results revealed significant age-related declines in integrity in regions previously identified as being sensitive to aging in younger-old adults (corpus callosum, fornix, cingulum, external capsule). For the corpus callosum, the effect of age on genu fractional anisotropy was significantly weaker than the relationship between age and splenium fractional anisotropy. Importantly, age-related declines in white matter integrity did not differ in cognitively normal and cognitively impaired not demented oldest-old, suggesting that they were not solely driven by cognitive dysfunction or preclinical dementia in this advanced age group. Instead, white matter in these regions appears to remain vulnerable to normal aging processes through the 10th decade of life.
Keywords: Aging; Corpus callosum; Fornix; Oldest-old; White matter integrity.
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