[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Under the umbrella of the National Database for Clinical Trials (NDCT) related to mental illnesses, the National Database for Autism Research (NDAR) seeks to gather, curate, and make openly available neuroimaging data from NIH-funded studies of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). NDAR has recently made its database accessible through the LONI Pipeline workflow design and execution environment to enable large-scale analyses of cortical architecture and function via local, cluster, or "cloud"-based computing resources. This presents a unique opportunity to overcome many of the customary limitations to fostering biomedical neuroimaging as a science of discovery. Providing open access to primary neuroimaging data, workflow methods, and high-performance computing will increase uniformity in data collection protocols, encourage greater reliability of published data, results replication, and broaden the range of researchers now able to perform larger studies than ever before. To illustrate the use of NDAR and LONI Pipeline for performing several commonly performed neuroimaging processing steps and analyses, this paper presents example workflows useful for ASD neuroimaging researchers seeking to begin using this valuable combination of online data and computational resources. We discuss the utility of such database and workflow processing interactivity as a motivation for the sharing of additional primary data in ASD research and elsewhere.
Brain Imaging and Behavior 02/2015; · 2.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The highly complex structure of the human brain is strongly shaped by genetic influences1. Subcortical brain regions form circuits with cortical areas to coordinate movement2, learning, memory3 and motivation4, and altered circuits can lead to abnormal behaviour and disease2. To investigate how common genetic variants affect the structure of these brain regions, here we conduct genome-wide association studies of the volumes of seven subcortical regions and the intracranial volume derived from magnetic resonance images of 30,717 individuals from 50 cohorts. We identify five novel genetic variants influencing the volumes of the putamen and caudate nucleus. We also find stronger evidence for three loci with previously established influences on hippocampal volume5 and intracranial volume6. These variants show specific volumetric effects on brain structures rather than global effects across structures. The strongest effects were found for the putamen, where a novel intergenic locus with replicable influence on volume (rs945270; P = 1.08 × 10−33; 0.52% variance explained) showed evidence of altering the expression of the KTN1 gene in both brain and blood tissue. Variants influencing putamen volume clustered near developmental genes that regulate apoptosis, axon guidance and vesicle transport. Identification of these genetic variants provides insight into the causes of variability in human brain development, and may help to determine mechanisms of neuropsychiatric dysfunction.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article investigates subjects aged 55 to 65 from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database to broaden our understanding of early-onset (EO) cognitive impairment using neuroimaging and genetics biomarkers.
Nine of the subjects had EO-AD (Alzheimer's disease) and 27 had EO-MCI (mild cognitive impairment). The 15 most important neuroimaging markers were extracted with the Global Shape Analysis (GSA) Pipeline workflow. The 20 most significant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were chosen and were associated with specific neuroimaging biomarkers.
We identified associations between the neuroimaging phenotypes and genotypes for a total of 36 subjects. Our results for all the subjects taken together showed the most significant associations between rs7718456 and L_hippocampus (volume), and between rs7718456 and R_hippocampus (volume). For the 27 MCI subjects, we found the most significant associations between rs6446443 and R_superior_frontal_gyrus (volume), and between rs17029131 and L_Precuneus (volume). For the nine AD subjects, we found the most significant associations between rs16964473 and L_rectus gyrus (surface area), and between rs12972537 and L_rectus_gyrus (surface area).
We observed significant correlations between the SNPs and the neuroimaging phenotypes in the 36 EO subjects in terms of neuroimaging genetics. However, larger sample sizes are needed to ensure that the effects will be detectable for a reasonable false-positive error rate using the GSA and Plink Pipeline workflows.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Memory impairment is the cardinal early feature of Alzheimer's disease, a highly prevalent disorder whose causes remain only partially understood. To identify novel genetic predictors, we used an integrative genomics approach to perform the largest study to date of human memory (n=14 781). Using a genome-wide screen, we discovered a novel association of a polymorphism in the pro-apoptotic gene FASTKD2 (fas-activated serine/threonine kinase domains 2; rs7594645-G) with better memory performance and replicated this finding in independent samples. Consistent with a neuroprotective effect, rs7594645-G carriers exhibited increased hippocampal volume and gray matter density and decreased cerebrospinal fluid levels of apoptotic mediators. The MTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) gene and pathways related to endocytosis, cholinergic neurotransmission, epidermal growth factor receptor signaling and immune regulation, among others, also displayed association with memory. These findings nominate FASTKD2 as a target for modulating neurodegeneration and suggest potential mechanisms for therapies to combat memory loss in normal cognitive aging and dementia.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication 11 November 2014; doi:10.1038/mp.2014.142.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dynamic changes in the brain's lateral ventricles on magnetic resonance imaging are powerful biomarkers of disease progression in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Ventricular measures can represent accumulation of diffuse brain atrophy with very high effect sizes. Despite having no direct role in cognition, ventricular expansion co-occurs with volumetric loss in gray and white matter structures. To better understand relationships between ventricular and cortical changes over time, we related ventricular expansion to atrophy in cognitively relevant cortical gray matter surfaces, which are more challenging to segment. In ADNI participants, percent change in ventricular volumes at 1-year (N = 677) and 2-year (N = 536) intervals was significantly associated with baseline cortical thickness and volume in the full sample controlling for age, sex, and diagnosis, and in MCI separately. Ventricular expansion in MCI was associated with thinner gray matter in frontal, temporal, and parietal regions affected by AD. Ventricular expansion reflects cortical atrophy in early AD, offering a useful biomarker for clinical trials of interventions to slow AD progression.
Neurobiology of Aging 08/2014; · 4.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We compare a variety of different anatomic connectivity measures, including several novel ones, that may help in distinguishing Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients from controls. We studied diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging from 200 subjects scanned as part of the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. We first evaluated measures derived from connectivity matrices based on whole-brain tractography; next, we studied additional network measures based on a novel flow-based measure of brain connectivity, computed on a dense 3-dimensional lattice. Based on these 2 kinds of connectivity matrices, we computed a variety of network measures. We evaluated the measures' ability to discriminate disease with a repeated, stratified 10-fold cross-validated classifier, using support vector machines, a supervised learning algorithm. We tested the relative importance of different combinations of features based on the accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and feature ranking of the classification of 200 people into normal healthy controls and people with early or late mild cognitive impairment or AD.
Neurobiology of Aging 08/2014; · 4.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In a previous report, we proposed a method for combining multiple markers of atrophy caused by Alzheimer's disease into a single atrophy score that is more powerful than any one feature. We applied the method to expansion rates of the lateral ventricles, achieving the most powerful ventricular atrophy measure to date. Here, we expand our method's application to tensor-based morphometry measures. We also combine the volumetric tensor-based morphometry measures with previously computed ventricular surface measures into a combined atrophy score. We show that our atrophy scores are longitudinally unbiased with the intercept bias estimated at 2 orders of magnitude below the mean atrophy of control subjects at 1 year. Both approaches yield the most powerful biomarker of atrophy not only for ventricular measures but also for all published unbiased imaging measures to date. A 2-year trial using our measures requires only 31 (22, 43) Alzheimer's disease subjects or 56 (44, 64) subjects with mild cognitive impairment to detect 25% slowing in atrophy with 80% power and 95% confidence.
Neurobiology of Aging 08/2014; · 4.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Brain connectivity is progressively disrupted in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here, we used a seemingly unrelated regression (SUR) model to enhance the power to identify structural connections related to cognitive scores. We simultaneously solved regression equations with different predictors and used correlated errors among the equations to boost power for associations with brain networks. Connectivity maps were computed to represent the brain's fiber networks from diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans of 200 subjects from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. We first identified a pattern of brain connections related to clinical decline using standard regressions powered by this large sample size. As AD studies with a large number of diffusion tensor imaging scans are rare, it is important to detect effects in smaller samples using simultaneous regression modeling like SUR. Diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or AD is well known to be associated with ApoE genotype and educational level. In a subsample with no apparent associations using the general linear model, power was boosted with our SUR model-combining genotype, educational level, and clinical diagnosis.
Neurobiology of Aging 08/2014; · 4.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Developmental dyslexia is a common reading disorder that negatively impacts an individual's ability to achieve literacy. Although the brain network involved in reading and its dysfunction in dyslexia has been well studied, it is unknown whether dyslexia is caused by structural abnormalities in the reading network itself or in the lower-level networks that provide input to the reading network. In this study, we acquired structural magnetic resonance imaging scans longitudinally from 27 Norwegian children from before formal literacy training began until after dyslexia was diagnosed. Thus, we were able to determine that the primary neuroanatomical abnormalities that precede dyslexia are not in the reading network itself, but rather in lower-level areas responsible for auditory and visual processing and core executive functions. Abnormalities in the reading network itself were only observed at age 11, after children had learned how to read. The findings suggest that abnormalities in the reading network are the consequence of having different reading experiences, rather than dyslexia per se, whereas the neuroanatomical precursors are predominantly in primary sensory cortices.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Segmentation methods for medical images may not generalize well to new data sets or new tasks, hampering their utility. We attempt to remedy these issues using deformable organisms to create an easily customizable segmentation plan. We validate our framework by creating a plan to locate the brain in 3D magnetic resonance images of the head (skull-stripping).
Journal of Neuroscience Methods 08/2014; · 1.96 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We introduce a framework for population analysis of white matter tracts based on diffusion-weighted images of the brain. The framework enables extraction of fibers from high angular resolution diffusion images (HARDI); clustering of the fibers based partly on prior knowledge from an atlas; representation of the fiber bundles compactly using a path following points of highest density (maximum density path; MDP); and registration of these paths together using geodesic curve matching to find local correspondences across a population. We demonstrate our method on 4-Tesla HARDI scans from 565 young adults to compute localized statistics across 50 white matter tracts based on fractional anisotropy (FA). Experimental results show increased sensitivity in the determination of genetic influences on principal fiber tracts compared to the tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) method. Our results show that the MDP representation reveals important parts of the white matter structure and considerably reduces the dimensionality over comparable fiber matching approaches.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Obesity is a crucial public health issue in developed countries, with implications for cardiovascular and brain health as we age. A number of commonly-carried genetic variants are associated with obesity. Here we aim to see whether variants in obesity-associated genes - NEGR1, FTO, MTCH2, MC4R, LRRN6C, MAP2K5, FAIM2, SEC16B, ETV5, BDNF-AS, ATXN2L, ATP2A1, KCTD15, and TNN13K - are associated with white matter microstructural properties, assessed by high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI) in young healthy adults between 20-30 years of age from the Queensland Twin Imaging study (QTIM). We began with a multi-locus approach testing how a number of common genetic risk factors for obesity at the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) level may jointly influence white matter integrity throughout the brain and found a wide spread genetic effect. Risk allele rs2815752 in NEGR1 was most associated with lower white matter integrity across a substantial portion of the brain. Across the area of significance in the bilateral posterior corona radiata, each additional copy of the risk allele was associated with a 2.2% lower average FA. This is the first study to find an association between an obesity risk gene and differences in white matter integrity. As our subjects were young and healthy, our results suggest that NEGR1 has effects on brain structure independent of its effect on obesity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several common genetic variants influence cholesterol levels, which play a key role in overall health. Myelin synthesis and maintenance are highly sensitive to cholesterol concentrations, and abnormal cholesterol levels increase the risk for various brain diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. We report significant associations between higher serum cholesterol (CHOL) and high-density lipoprotein levels and higher fractional anisotropy in 403 young adults (23.8 ± 2.4 years) scanned with diffusion imaging and anatomic magnetic resonance imaging at 4 Tesla. By fitting a multi-locus genetic model within white matter areas associated with CHOL, we found that a set of 18 cholesterol-related, single-nucleotide polymorphisms implicated in Alzheimer's disease risk predicted fractional anisotropy. We focused on the single-nucleotide polymorphism with the largest individual effects, CETP (rs5882), and found that increased G-allele dosage was associated with higher fractional anisotropy and lower radial and mean diffusivities in voxel-wise analyses of the whole brain. A follow-up analysis detected white matter associations with rs5882 in the opposite direction in 78 older individuals (74.3 ± 7.3 years). Cholesterol levels may influence white matter integrity, and cholesterol-related genes may exert age-dependent effects on the brain.
Neurobiology of Aging 06/2014; · 4.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Both traumatic brain injury (TBI) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common problems resulting from military service, and both have been associated with increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia resulting from Alzheimer's disease (AD) or other causes. This study aims to use imaging techniques and biomarker analysis to determine whether traumatic brain injury (TBI) and/or PTSD resulting from combat or other traumas increase the risk for AD and decrease cognitive reserve in Veteran subjects, after accounting for age. Using military and Department of Veterans Affairs records, 65 Vietnam War veterans with a history of moderate or severe TBI with or without PTSD, 65 with ongoing PTSD without TBI, and 65 control subjects are being enrolled in this study at 19 sites. The study aims to select subject groups that are comparable in age, gender, ethnicity, and education. Subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia are being excluded. However, a new study just beginning, and similar in size, will study subjects with TBI, subjects with PTSD, and control subjects with MCI. Baseline measurements of cognition, function, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers; magnetic resonance images (structural, diffusion tensor, and resting state blood-level oxygen dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging); and amyloid positron emission tomographic (PET) images with florbetapir are being obtained. One-year follow-up measurements will be collected for most of the baseline procedures, with the exception of the lumbar puncture, the PET imaging, and apolipoprotein E genotyping. To date, 19 subjects with TBI only, 46 with PTSD only, and 15 with TBI and PTSD have been recruited and referred to 13 clinics to undergo the study protocol. It is expected that cohorts will be fully recruited by October 2014. This study is a first step toward the design and statistical powering of an AD prevention trial using at-risk veterans as subjects, and provides the basis for a larger, more comprehensive study of dementia risk factors in veterans.
Alzheimer's and Dementia 06/2014; 10(3):S226–S235. · 17.47 Impact Factor