Subregional basal forebrain atrophy in Alzheimer's disease: a multicenter study.
ABSTRACT: Histopathological studies in Alzheimer's disease (AD) suggest severe and region-specific neurodegeneration of the basal forebrain cholinergic system (BFCS). Here, we studied the between-center reliability and diagnostic accuracy of MRI-based BFCS volumetry in a large multicenter data set, including participants with prodromal (n = 41) or clinically manifest AD (n = 134) and 148 cognitively healthy controls. Atrophy was determined using voxel-based and region-of-interest based analyses of high-dimensionally normalized MRI scans using a newly created map of the BFCS based on postmortem in cranio MRI and histology. The AD group showed significant volume reductions of all subregions of the BFCS, which were most pronounced in the posterior nucleus basalis Meynert (NbM). The mild cognitive impairment-AD group showed pronounced volume reductions in the posterior NbM, but preserved volumes of anterior-medial regions. Diagnostic accuracy of posterior NbM volume was superior to hippocampus volume in both groups, despite higher multicenter variability of the BFCS measurements. The data of our study suggest that BFCS morphometry may provide an emerging biomarker in AD.
Project description:The basal forebrain cholinergic system (BFCS) is known to undergo moderate neurodegenerative changes during normal aging as well as severe atrophy in Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, there is a controversy regarding how the cholinergic lesion in AD relates to early and incipient stages of the disease. In vivo imaging studies on the structural integrity of the BFCS in normal and pathologic aging are rare.We applied automated morphometry techniques in combination with high-dimensional image warping and a cytoarchitectonic map of basal forebrain cholinergic nuclei to a large cross-sectional data set of high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging scans, covering the whole adult age range (20-94 years; n = 211) as well as patients with very mild AD (Clinical Dementia Rating = .5; n = 69) and clinically manifest AD (AD; Clinical Dementia Rating = 1; n = 28). For comparison, we investigated hippocampus volume using automated volumetry.Volume of the BFCS declined from early adulthood on, and atrophy aggravated in advanced age. Volume reductions in very mild AD were most pronounced in posterior parts of the nucleus basalis of Meynert, whereas in AD, atrophy was more extensive and included the whole BFCS. In clinically manifest AD, the diagnostic accuracy of BFCS volume reached the diagnostic accuracy of hippocampus volume.Our findings indicate that cholinergic degeneration in AD occurs against a background of age-related atrophy and that exacerbated atrophy in AD can be detected at earliest stages of cognitive impairment. Automated in vivo morphometry of the BFCS may become a useful tool to assess BF cholinergic degeneration in normal and pathologic aging.
Project description:Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are approved drugs currently used for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia. Basal forebrain cholinergic system (BFCS) atrophy is reported to precede both entorhinal cortex atrophy and memory impairment in AD, challenging the traditional model of the temporal sequence of topographical pathology associated with AD. We studied the effect of one-year Donepezil treatment on the rate of BFCS atrophy in prodromal AD patients using a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of Donepezil (10?mg/day). Reduced annual BFCS rates of atrophy were found in the Donepezil group compared to the Placebo treated arm. Secondary analyses on BFCS subregions demonstrated the largest treatment effects in the Nucleus Basalis of Meynert (NbM) and the medial septum/diagonal band (Ch1/2). Donepezil administered at a prodromal stage of AD seems to substantially reduce the rate of atrophy of the BFCS nuclei with highest concentration of cholinergic neurons projecting to the cortex (NbM), hippocampus and entorhinal cortex (Ch1/2).
Project description:We compared accuracy of hippocampus and basal forebrain cholinergic system (BFCS) atrophy to predict cortical amyloid burden in 179 cognitively normal subjects (CN), 269 subjects with early stages of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 136 subjects with late stages of MCI, and 86 subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia retrieved from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative database. Hippocampus and BFCS volumes were determined from structural magnetic resonance imaging scans at 3 Tesla, and cortical amyloid load from AV45 (florbetapir) positron emission tomography scans. In receiver operating characteristics analyses, BFCS volume provided significantly more accurate classification into amyloid-negative and -positive categories than hippocampus volume. In contrast, hippocampus volume more accurately identified the diagnostic categories of AD, late and early MCI, and CN compared with whole and anterior BFCS volume, whereas posterior BFCS and hippocampus volumes yielded similar diagnostic accuracy. In logistic regression analysis, hippocampus and posterior BFCS volumes contributed significantly to discriminate MCI and AD from CN, but only BFCS volume predicted amyloid status. Our findings suggest that BFCS atrophy is more closely associated with cortical amyloid burden than hippocampus atrophy in predementia AD.
Project description:Few studies have investigated in vivo changes of the cholinergic basal forebrain in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI), an at risk stage of AD. Even less is known about alterations of cortical projecting fiber tracts associated with basal forebrain atrophy. In this study, we determined regional atrophy within the basal forebrain in 21 patients with AD and 16 subjects with MCI compared to 20 healthy elderly subjects using deformation-based morphometry of MRI scans. We assessed effects of basal forebrain atrophy on fiber tracts derived from high-resolution diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) using tract-based spatial statistics. We localized significant effects relative to a map of cholinergic nuclei in MRI standard space as determined from a postmortem brain. Patients with AD and MCI subjects showed reduced volumes in basal forebrain areas corresponding to anterior medial and lateral, intermediate and posterior nuclei of the Nucleus basalis of Meynert (NbM) as well as in the diagonal band of Broca nuclei (P < 0.01). Effects in MCI subjects were spatially more restricted than in AD, but occurred at similar locations. The volume of the right antero-lateral NbM nucleus was correlated with intracortical projecting fiber tract integrity such as the corpus callosum, cingulate, and the superior longitudinal, inferior longitudinal, inferior fronto-occipital, and uncinate fasciculus (P < 0.05, corrected for multiple comparisons). Our findings suggest that a multimodal MRI-DTI approach is supportive to determine atrophy of cholinergic nuclei and its effect on intracortical projecting fiber tracts in AD.
Project description:Medial temporal lobe (MTL) atrophy is a key feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD), however, it also occurs in typical aging. To enhance the clinical utility of this biomarker, we need to better understand the differential effects of age and AD by encompassing the full AD-continuum from cognitively unimpaired (CU) to dementia, including all MTL subregions with up-to-date approaches and using longitudinal designs to assess atrophy more sensitively. Age-related trajectories were estimated using the best-fitted polynomials in 209 CU adults (aged 19–85). Changes related to AD were investigated among amyloid-negative (Aβ−) (n = 46) and amyloid-positive (Aβ+) (n = 14) CU, Aβ+ patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (n = 33) and AD (n = 31). Nineteen MCI-to-AD converters were also compared with 34 non-converters. Relationships with cognitive functioning were evaluated in 63 Aβ+ MCI and AD patients. All participants were followed up to 47 months. MTL subregions, namely, the anterior and posterior hippocampus (aHPC/pHPC), entorhinal cortex (ERC), Brodmann areas (BA) 35 and 36 [as perirhinal cortex (PRC) substructures], and parahippocampal cortex (PHC), were segmented from a T1-weighted MRI using a new longitudinal pipeline (LASHiS). Statistical analyses were performed using mixed models. Adult lifespan models highlighted both linear (PRC, BA35, BA36, PHC) and nonlinear (HPC, aHPC, pHPC, ERC) trajectories. Group comparisons showed reduced baseline volumes and steeper volume declines over time for most of the MTL subregions in Aβ+ MCI and AD patients compared to Aβ− CU, but no differences between Aβ− and Aβ+ CU or between Aβ+ MCI and AD patients (except in ERC). Over time, MCI-to-AD converters exhibited a greater volume decline than non-converters in HPC, aHPC, and pHPC. Most of the MTL subregions were related to episodic memory performances but not to executive functioning or speed processing. Overall, these results emphasize the benefits of studying MTL subregions to distinguish age-related changes from AD. Interestingly, MTL subregions are unequally vulnerable to aging, and those displaying non-linear age-trajectories, while not damaged in preclinical AD (Aβ+ CU), were particularly affected from the prodromal stage (Aβ+ MCI). This volume decline in hippocampal substructures might also provide information regarding the conversion from MCI to AD-dementia. All together, these findings provide new insights into MTL alterations, which are crucial for AD-biomarkers definition.
Project description:Extensive research suggests that basal forebrain (BF) cholinergic neurons are selectively vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, it remains unknown whether volume loss of BF cholinergic compartments parallels structural changes of their innervated regions in prodromal AD. To this aim, we have correlated volume of each BF compartment with cortical thickness and hippocampus/amygdala volume in 106 healthy older (HO) adults and 106 amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) patients. Correlations were limited to regions affected by atrophy in aMCI. The volume of the nucleus basalis of Meynert (NBM/Ch4) was positively correlated with thickness of the temporal cortex in aMCI, and with volume of amygdala in HO and aMCI, separately. Volume of the medial septum/diagonal band of Broca (Ch1-Ch3) was also positively correlated with volume of the hippocampus within the 2 groups. Only correlations between the NBM and their innervated regions showed diagnostic value. Unlike men, aMCI women showed a stronger association between volume of the NBM and thickness of the temporal lobe when compared with HO women. Altogether, these results reveal, for the first time in humans, that atrophy of NBM is associated with structural changes of their innervated regions in prodromal AD, being this relationship more evident in women.
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>Both amyloid-β (Aβ) deposition and brain atrophy are associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and the disease process likely begins many years before symptoms appear. We sought to determine whether clinically normal (CN) older individuals with Aβ deposition revealed by positron emission tomography (PET) imaging using Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) also have evidence of both cortical thickness and hippocampal volume reductions in a pattern similar to that seen in AD.<h4>Methods</h4>A total of 119 older individuals (87 CN subjects and 32 patients with mild AD) underwent PiB PET and high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Regression models were used to relate PiB retention to cortical thickness and hippocampal volume.<h4>Results</h4>We found that PiB retention in CN subjects was (1) age-related and (2) associated with cortical thickness reductions, particularly in parietal and posterior cingulate regions extending into the precuneus, in a pattern similar to that observed in mild AD. Hippocampal volume reduction was variably related to Aβ deposition.<h4>Interpretation</h4>We conclude that Aβ deposition is associated with a pattern of cortical thickness reduction consistent with AD prior to the development of cognitive impairment.
Project description:Regions of the temporal and parietal lobes are particularly damaged in Alzheimer's disease (AD), and this leads to a predictable pattern of brain atrophy. In vivo quantification of subregional atrophy, such as changes in cortical thickness or structure volume, could lead to improved diagnosis and better assessment of the neuroprotective effects of a therapy. Toward this end, we have developed a fast and robust method for accurately quantifying cerebral structural changes in several cortical and subcortical regions using serial MRI scans. In 169 healthy controls, 299 subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 129 subjects with AD, we measured rates of subregional cerebral volume change for each cohort and performed power calculations to identify regions that would provide the most sensitive outcome measures in clinical trials of disease-modifying agents. Consistent with regional specificity of AD, temporal-lobe cortical regions showed the greatest disease-related changes and significantly outperformed any of the clinical or cognitive measures examined for both AD and MCI. Global measures of change in brain structure, including whole-brain and ventricular volumes, were also elevated in AD and MCI, but were less salient when compared to changes in normal subjects. Therefore, these biomarkers are less powerful for quantifying disease-modifying effects of compounds that target AD pathology. The findings indicate that regional temporal lobe cortical changes would have great utility as outcome measures in clinical trials and may also have utility in clinical practice for aiding early diagnosis of neurodegenerative disease.
Project description:Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that mainly affects grey matter (GM). Nevertheless, a number of investigations have documented white matter (WM) pathology associated with AD. The corpus callosum (CC) is the largest WM fiber bundle in the human brain. It has been shown to be susceptible to atrophy in AD mainly as a correlate of Wallerian degeneration of commissural nerve fibers of the neocortex. The aim of this study was to investigate which callosal regions are affected and whether callosal degeneration is associated with the stage of the disease. For this purpose, we analyzed high-resolution MRI data of patients with amnesic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (n=20), mild AD (n=20), severe AD (n=10), and of healthy controls (n=20). Callosal morphology was investigated applying two different structural techniques: mesh-based geometrical modeling methods and whole-brain voxel-based analyses. Our findings indicate significant reductions in severe AD patients compared to healthy controls in anterior (genu and anterior body) and posterior (splenium) sections. In contrast, differences between healthy controls and mild AD patients or amnesic MCI patients were less pronounced and did not survive corrections for multiple comparisons. When correlating anterior and posterior WM density of the CC with GM density of the cortex in the severe AD group, we detected significant positive relationships between posterior sections of the CC and the cortex. We conclude that callosal atrophy is present predominantly in the latest stage of AD, where two mechanisms might contribute to WM alterations in severe AD: the Wallerian degeneration in posterior subregions and the myelin breakdown process in anterior subregions.
Project description:T1-magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies report early atrophy in the left anterior temporal lobe, especially the perirhinal cortex, in semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (svPPA). Improved segmentation protocols using high-resolution T2-MRI have enabled fine-grained medial temporal lobe (MTL) subregional measurements, which may provide novel information on the atrophy pattern and disease progression in svPPA. We aimed to investigate the MTL subregional atrophy pattern cross-sectionally and longitudinally in patients with svPPA as compared with controls and patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). MTL subregional volumes were obtained using the Automated Segmentation for Hippocampal Subfields software from high-resolution T2-MRIs in 15 svPPA, 37 AD, and 23 healthy controls. All MTL volumes were corrected for intracranial volume and parahippocampal cortices for slice number. Longitudinal atrophy rates of all subregions were obtained using an unbiased deformation-based morphometry pipeline in 6 svPPA patients, 9 controls, and 12 AD patients. Cross-sectionally, significant volume loss was observed in svPPA compared with controls in the left MTL, right cornu ammonis 1 (CA1), Brodmann area (BA)35, and BA36 (subdivisions of the perirhinal cortex). Compared with AD patients, svPPA patients had significantly smaller left CA1, BA35, and left and right BA36 volumes. Longitudinally, svPPA patients had significantly greater atrophy rates of left and right BA36 than controls but not relative to AD patients. Fine-grained analysis of MTL atrophy patterns provides information about the evolution of atrophy in svPPA. These results indicate that MTL subregional measures might be useful markers to track disease progression or for clinical trials in svPPA.