Estimates of age-dependent cutoffs for pathological brain volume loss using SIENA/FSL-a longitudinal brain volumetry study in healthy adults

Neurobiol Aging. 2018 May;65:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2017.12.024. Epub 2017 Dec 30.


Brain volume loss (BVL) has gained increasing interest for monitoring tissue damage in neurodegenerative diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS). In this longitudinal study, 117 healthy participants (age range 37.3-82.6 years) received at least 2 magnetic resonance imaging examinations. BVL (in %) was determined with the Structural Image Evaluation using Normalisation of Atrophy/FMRIB Software Library and annualized. Mean BVL per year was 0.15%, 0.30%, 0.46%, and 0.61% at ages 45, 55, 65, and 75 years, respectively. The corresponding BVL per year values of the age-dependent 95th percentiles were 0.52%, 0.77%, 1.05% and 1.45%. Pathological BVL can be assumed if an individual BVL per year exceeds these thresholds for a given age. The mean BVL per year determined in this longitudinal study was consistent with results from a cross-sectional study that was published recently. The cut-off for a pathological BVL per year at the age of 45 years (0.52%) was consistent with the cut-off suggested previously to distinguish between physiological and pathological BVL in MS patients. Different cut-off values, however, need to be considered when interpreting BVL assessed in cohorts of higher ages.

Keywords: Aging; Brain atrophy; Brain volume loss; Cutoff; Multiple sclerosis; SIENA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrophy
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Healthy Aging / pathology*
  • Healthy Volunteers*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size*
  • Software