Cytoarchitectonic Mapping of MRI Detects Rapid Changes in Alzheimer's Disease

Front Neurol. 2020 Apr 30;11:241. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.00241. eCollection 2020.


The clinical and pathological progression of Alzheimer's disease often proceeds rapidly, but little is understood about its structural characteristics over short intervals. This study evaluated the short temporal characteristics of the brain structure in Alzheimer's disease through the application of cytoarchitectonic probabilistic brain mapping to measurements of gray matter density, a technique which may provide advantages over standard volumetric MRI techniques. Gray matter density was calculated using voxel-based morphometry of T1-weighted MRI obtained from Alzheimer's disease patients and healthy controls evaluated at intervals of 0.5, 1.5, 3.5, 6.5, 9.5, 12, 18, and 24 months by the MIRIAD study. The Alzheimer's disease patients had 19.1% less gray matter at 1st MRI, and this declined 81.6% faster than in healthy controls. Atrophy in the hippocampus, amygdala, and basal forebrain distinguished the Alzheimer's disease patients. Notably, the CA2 of the hippocampus was found to have atrophied significantly within 1 month. Gray matter density measurements were reliable, with intraclass correlation coefficients exceeding 0.8. Comparative atrophy in the Alzheimer's disease group agreed with manual tracing MRI studies of Alzheimer's disease while identifying atrophy on a shorter time scale than has previously been reported. Cytoarchitectonic mapping of gray matter density is reliable and sensitive to small-scale neurodegeneration, indicating its use in the future study of Alzheimer's disease.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; atrophy; gray matter; magnetic resonance imaging; voxel-based morphometry.