Age- and sex-related effects on the neuroanatomy of healthy elderly

Groupe d'Imagerie Neurofonctionnelle, UMR 6194, CNRS, CEA, Universités de Caen et Paris 5, GIP Cyceron, BP5229, F-14074 Caen, France.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 08/2005; 26(3):900-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.02.042
Source: PubMed


Effects of age and sex, and their interaction on the structural brain anatomy of healthy elderly were assessed thanks to a cross-sectional study of a cohort of 662 subjects aged from 63 to 75 years. T1- and T2-weighted MRI scans were acquired in each subject and further processed using a voxel-based approach that was optimized for the identification of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) compartment. Analysis of covariance revealed a classical neuroanatomy sexual dimorphism, men exhibiting larger gray matter (GM), white matter (WM), and CSF compartment volumes, together with larger WM and CSF fractions, whereas women showed larger GM fraction. GM and WM were found to significantly decrease with age, while CSF volume significantly increased. Tissue probability map analysis showed that the highest rates of GM atrophy in this age range were localized in primary cortices, the angular and superior parietal gyri, the orbital part of the prefrontal cortex, and in the hippocampal region. There was no significant interaction between "Sex" and "Age" for any of the tissue volumes, as well as for any of the tissue probability maps. These findings indicate that brain atrophy during the seventh and eighth decades of life is ubiquitous and proceeds at a rate that is not modulated by "Sex".

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Available from: Fabrice Crivello
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    • "The combined effects of age and gender on the human brain have been assessed suggesting a more profound decline in GM volume in males (Ge et al. 2002a; Raz et al. 1997; Taki et al. 2004). However, research evidence is inconsistent on one hand (Lemaitre et al. 2005) and sparse on the other, especially considering the subcortical GM structures. Most of the studies focusing on subcortical nuclei applied a voxel-based morphometric approach to identify gender differences. "
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    ABSTRACT: Effects of gender on grey matter (GM) volume differences in subcortical structures of the human brain have consistently been reported. Recent research evidence suggests that both gender and brain size influences volume distribution in subcortical areas independently. The goal of this study was to determine the effects of the interplay between brain size, gender and age contributing to volume differences of subcortical GM in the human brain. High-resolution T1-weighted images were acquired from 53 healthy males and 50 age-matched healthy females. Total GM volume was determined using voxel-based morphometry. We used model-based subcortical segmentation analysis to measure the volume of subcortical nuclei. Main effects of gender, brain volume and aging on subcortical structures were examined using multivariate analysis of variance. No significant difference was found in total brain volume between the two genders after correcting for total intracranial volume. Our analysis revealed significantly larger hippocampus volume for females. Additionally, GM volumes of the caudate nucleus, putamen and thalamus displayed a significant age-related decrease in males as compared to females. In contrast to this only the thalamic volume loss proved significant for females. Strikingly, GM volume decreases faster in males than in females emphasizing the interplay between aging and gender on subcortical structures. These findings might have important implications for the interpretation of the effects of unalterable factors (i.e. gender and age) in cross-sectional structural MRI studies. Furthermore, the volume distribution and changes of subcortical structures have been consistently related to several neuropsychiatric disorders (e.g. Parkinson's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, etc.). Understanding these changes might yield further insight in the course and prognosis of these disorders.
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    • "Baseline and follow-up MRIs were performed using the same scanner (1.5 Tesla Magnetom; Siemens, USA) and analysed using identical procedures, as described previously (Maillard et al. 2008; Crivello et al. 2010). Tissue segmentation and brain tissue probability maps were obtained using Statistical Probability Mapping software ( and a voxel-based morphometry protocol that was modified to account for characteristics of aged brains (Good et al. 2001; Lemaitre et al. 2005) (for details, see online Supplementary Appendix). Gray matter (GM), white matter (WM), and cerebrospinal fluid volumes were computed as the integral of the voxel intensities of the modulated tissue partition images; total intracranial volume (TIV) was generated as their sum. "
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    • "There are a few reported age-specific templates for adults. Lemaître et al. (2005), created a T1-weighted probabilistic brain atlas representing an average of 662 subjects aged 63–75 years. These subjects were a sub-sample of the Epidemiology of Vascular Aging cohort, a longitudinal study on vascular aging and cognitive function in healthy older adults (see Dufouil et al., 2001 for details of study). "
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