Evidence for cervical cord tissue disorganisation with aging by diffusion tensor MRI.
ABSTRACT This study investigated the influence of normal aging on cervical cord volumetry and diffusivity changes and assessed whether magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities of the aging cervical cord and brain are associated. Conventional and diffusion tensor (DT) MRI of the brain and cervical cord were acquired from 96 healthy subjects (age range=13-70 years). Cross-sectional area, mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA) of the cervical cord were measured. Volumetry and diffusivity metrics were also obtained for the brain white matter (WM) and grey matter (GM) (overall and cortical). No cervical cord lesions were seen on conventional MR images from all subjects. Degenerative vertebral column changes (not associated to cord compression) were found in 41 subjects (43%). Average FA of the cervical cord, but not average MD and cross-sectional area, was correlated with age (r=-0.70, p<0.001). Additionally, T2 brain lesion volume, normalised brain volume (NBV), normalised global and cortical brain GM volumes and average MD of the brain GM and WM also correlated with age (r values ranging from -0.83 to 0.62). Only brain WM average FA was weakly correlated with cervical cord average FA (r=0.25, p=0.02). The final multivariate model retained cord average FA (r=-0.37, p<0.001), normalised cortical GM volume (r=-0.56, p<0.001) and NBV (r=-0.22, p=0.04) as independent correlates of age (r2=0.76). Cervical cord is vulnerable to aging. The decrease of FA, in the absence of atrophy and MD changes, suggests gliosis as the most likely pathological feature of the aging cord.
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ABSTRACT: The brain contains more than 100 billion neurons that communicate with each other via axons for the formation of complex neural networks. The structural mapping of such networks during health and disease states is essential for understanding brain function. However, our understanding of brain structural connectivity is surprisingly limited, due in part to the lack of noninvasive methodologies to study axonal anatomy. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a recently developed MRI technique that can measure macroscopic axonal organization in nervous system tissues. In this article, the principles of DTI methodologies are explained, and several applications introduced, including visualization of axonal tracts in myelin and axonal injuries as well as human brain and mouse embryonic development. The strengths and limitations of DTI and key areas for future research and development are also discussed.Neuron 10/2006; 51(5):527-39. · 15.77 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The mechanisms underlying the progressive course of multiple sclerosis (MS) are not fully understood yet. Since diffusion tensor (DT) MRI can provide quantitative estimates of both MRI-visible and MRI-occult brain damage related to MS, the present study investigated the value of DT MRI-derived measures for the assessment of the short-term accumulation of white and gray matter (GM) pathology in patients with primary progressive (PP) and secondary progressive (SP) MS. Fifty-four patients with PPMS and 22 with SPMS were studied at baseline and after a mean follow-up of 15 months. Dual-echo, T1-weighted, and DT MRI scans of the brain were acquired on both occasions. Total lesion volumes (TLV) and percentage brain volume changes (PBVC) were computed. Mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA) maps of the normal-appearing white (NAWM) and gray matter (NAGM) were produced, and histogram analysis was performed. In both patient groups, a significant increase of average lesion MD (P = 0.01) and of average NAGM MD (P = 0.007) was found at follow-up. No significant differences between PPMS and SPMS patient groups were found for the on-study changes of any MRI-derived measure. No significant correlations were found between the percentage changes of DT MRI-derived measures and those of TLV and PBVC. No significant changes of DT MRI-derived measures were observed in age-matched healthy controls over the same study period. Over a 1-year period of follow-up, DT MRI can detect tissue changes beyond the resolution of conventional MRI in the NAGM of patients with progressive MS. The accumulation of DT MRI-detectable gray matter damage does not seem to merely depend upon the concomitant increase of T2-visible lesion load and the reduction of brain volume. These observations suggest that progressive NAGM damage might yet be an additional factor leading to the accumulation of disability in progressive MS.NeuroImage 03/2005; 24(4):1139-46. · 6.25 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Age-related loss of brain tissue has been inferred from cross-sectional neuroimaging studies, but direct measurements of gray and white matter changes from longitudinal studies are lacking. We quantified longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of 92 nondemented older adults (age 59-85 years at baseline) in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging to determine the rates and regional distribution of gray and white matter tissue loss in older adults. Using images from baseline, 2 year, and 4 year follow-up, we found significant age changes in gray (p < 0.001) and white (p < 0.001) volumes even in a subgroup of 24 very healthy elderly. Annual rates of tissue loss were 5.4 +/- 0.3, 2.4 +/- 0.4, and 3.1 +/- 0.4 cm3 per year for total brain, gray, and white volumes, respectively, and ventricles increased by 1.4 +/- 0.1 cm3 per year (3.7, 1.3, 2.4, and 1.2 cm3, respectively, in very healthy). Frontal and parietal, compared with temporal and occipital, lobar regions showed greater decline. Gray matter loss was most pronounced for orbital and inferior frontal, cingulate, insular, inferior parietal, and to a lesser extent mesial temporal regions, whereas white matter changes were widespread. In this first study of gray and white matter volume changes, we demonstrate significant longitudinal tissue loss for both gray and white matter even in very healthy older adults. These data provide essential information on the rate and regional pattern of age-associated changes against which pathology can be evaluated and suggest slower rates of brain atrophy in individuals who remain medically and cognitively healthy.Journal of Neuroscience 05/2003; 23(8):3295-301. · 6.91 Impact Factor