Longitudinal Changes in White Matter Tract Integrity across the Adult Lifespan and Its Relation to Cortical Thinning.
ABSTRACT: A causal link between decreases in white matter (WM) integrity and cortical degeneration is assumed, but there is scarce knowledge on the relationship between these changes across the adult human lifespan. We investigated changes in thickness throughout the cortical mantle and WM tract integrity derived from T1 and diffusion weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in 201 healthy adults aged 23-87 years over a mean interval of 3.6 years. Fractional anisotropy (FA), mean (MD), radial (RD) and axial (AD) diffusivity changes were calculated for forceps minor and major and eight major white matter tracts in each hemisphere by use of a novel automated longitudinal tractography constrained by underlying anatomy (TRACULA) approach. We hypothesized that increasing MD and decreasing FA across tracts would relate to cortical thinning, with some anatomical specificity. WM integrity decreased across tracts non-uniformly, with mean annual percentage decreases ranging from 0.20 in the Inferior Longitudinal Fasciculus to 0.65 in the Superior Longitudinal Fasciculus. For most tracts, greater MD increases and FA decreases related to more cortical thinning, in areas in part overlapping with but also outside the projected tract endings. The findings indicate a combination of global and tract-specific relationships between WM integrity and cortical thinning.
Project description:Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate microstructural changes of major white matter (WM) tracts in patients with vascular cognitive impairment (VCI). Method: Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data were obtained from 24 subjects with subcortical ischemic vascular disease (SIVD), including 13 subjects with VCI-no dementia (VCIND) and 11 subjects with normal cognition (as a control group). A tract-based spatial statistics approach was performed to investigate WM microstructure in VCIND by integrating multiple indices including fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD), which are intra-voxel metrics, and local diffusion homogeneity (LDH), which is an inter-voxel metric. Results: The VCIND group had decreased FA and increased MD values throughout widespread WM areas predominately in the corpus callosum, bilateral internal capsule/corona radiata/posterior thalamic radiation/inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus and right inferior/superior longitudinal fasciculus. There was a slight discrepancy between the distribution of areas with decreased FA and LDH. The FA, MD and LDH values were significantly correlated with cognitive test results. According to a WM tract atlas, 10 major tracts were identified as tracts of interest in which three diffusion metrics simultaneously differed between groups, including bilateral anterior thalamic radiation, forceps minor, right corticospinal tract, bilateral inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, left inferior and superior longitudinal fasciculus, and bilateral uncinate fasciculus. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis demonstrated the feasibility of using diffusion metrics along the forceps minor and left anterior thalamic radiation for separating two groups. Conclusion: The results suggest WM microstructural abnormalities contribute to cognitive impairments in SIVD patients. DTI parameters may be potential biomarkers for detecting VCIND from SIVD.
Project description:Whether plasticity of white matter (WM) microstructure relates to therapeutic response in major depressive disorder (MDD) remains uncertain. We examined diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) correlates of WM structural connectivity in patients receiving electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a rapidly acting treatment for severe MDD. Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS) applied to DTI data (61 directions, 2.5 mm(3) voxel size) targeted voxel-level changes in fractional anisotropy (FA), and radial (RD), axial (AD) and mean diffusivity (MD) in major WM pathways in MDD patients (n=20, mean age: 41.15 years, 10.32 s.d.) scanned before ECT, after their second ECT and at transition to maintenance therapy. Comparisons made at baseline with demographically similar controls (n=28, mean age: 39.42 years, 12.20 s.d.) established effects of diagnosis. Controls were imaged twice to estimate scanning-related variance. Patients showed significant increases of FA in dorsal fronto-limbic circuits encompassing the anterior cingulum, forceps minor and left superior longitudinal fasciculus between baseline and transition to maintenance therapy (P<0.05, corrected). Decreases in RD and MD were observed in overlapping regions and the anterior thalamic radiation (P<0.05, corrected). Changes in DTI metrics associated with therapeutic response in tracts showing significant ECT effects differed between patients and controls. All measures remained stable across time in controls. Altered WM microstructure in pathways connecting frontal and limbic areas occur in MDD, are modulated by ECT and relate to therapeutic response. Increased FA together with decreased MD and RD, which trend towards normative values with treatment, suggest increased fiber integrity in dorsal fronto-limbic pathways involved in mood regulation.
Project description:Primary dysmenorrhea (PDM), a significant public health problem for adolescents and young women, is characterized by painful menstrual cramps. Recent neuroimaging studies have revealed that brain functional and structural abnormalities are related to the pathomechanism of PDM. However, it is not clear whether there are white matter (WM) alterations in PDM. We analyzed diffusion tensor imaging data from 35 patients and 35 healthy controls (HCs) matched for age and handedness. Tract-based spatial statistics and probabilistic tractography were used to measure integrity of WM microstructure. Compared to HCs, patients had increased fractional anisotropy (FA) along with decreased mean diffusivity (MD) and radial diffusivity (RD) in the corpus callosum (CC), superior longitudinal fasciculus (LF), corona radiata (CR), internal capsule (IC) and external capsule (EC). The FA of the splenium CC and right IC positively correlated with PDM duration while FA of the right anterior CR positively correlated with PDM severity in patient group. These WM tracts were found to show connections to other brain regions implicated in sensoimotor, affective, cognitive and pain processing functions through tractography. These findings provide preliminary evidence for WM microstructure alterations in PDM, which is potentially valuable for understanding pathomechanism of PDM.
Project description:Background: The degenerative pattern of white matter (WM) microstructures during Alzheimer's disease (AD) and its relationship with cognitive function have not yet been clarified. The present research aimed to explore the alterations of the WM microstructure and its impact on amnestic mild cognitive (aMCI) and AD patients. Mechanical learning methods were used to explore the validity of WM microstructure lesions on the classification in AD spectrum disease. Methods: Neuropsychological data and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) images were collected from 28 AD subjects, 31 aMCI subjects, and 27 normal controls (NC). Tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) were used to extract diffusion parameters in WM tracts. We performed ANOVA analysis to compare diffusion parameters and clinical features among the three groups. Partial correlation analysis was used to explore the relationship between diffusion metrics and cognitive functions controlling for age, gender, and years of education. Additionally, we performed the support vector machine (SVM) classification to determine the discriminative ability of DTI metrics in the differentiation of aMCI and AD patients from controls. Results: As compared to controls or aMCI patients, AD patients displayed widespread WM lesions, including in the inferior longitudinal fasciculus, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculi, and superior longitudinal fasciculus. Significant correlations between fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), and radial diffusion (RD) of the long longitudinal tract and memory deficits were found in aMCI and AD groups, respectively. Furthermore, through SVM classification, we found DTI indicators generated by FA and MD parameters can effectively distinguish AD patients from the control group with accuracy rates of up to 89 and 85%, respectively. Conclusion: The WM microstructure is extensively disrupted in AD patients, and the WM integrity of the long longitudinal tract is closely related to memory, which would hold potential value for monitoring the progression of AD. The method of classification based on SVM and WM damage features may be objectively helpful to the classification of AD diseases.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a mental illness with a complex, partially genetic background. Differences in characteristics of white matter (WM) microstructure have been reported in patients with SAD compared to healthy controls. Also, WM characteristics are moderately to highly heritable. Endophenotypes are measurable characteristics on the road from genotype to phenotype, putatively reflective of genetically based disease mechanisms. In search of candidate endophenotypes of SAD we used a unique sample of SAD patients and their family members of two generations to explore microstructure of WM tracts as candidate endophenotypes. We focused on two endophenotype criteria: co-segregation with social anxiety within the families, and heritability.<h4>Methods</h4>Participants (n = 94 from 8 families genetically vulnerable for SAD) took part in the Leiden Family Lab Study on Social Anxiety Disorder (LFLSAD). We employed tract-based spatial statistics to examine structural WM characteristics, being fractional anisotropy (FA), axial diffusivity (AD), mean diffusivity (MD) and radial diffusivity (RD), in three a-priori defined tracts of interest: uncinate fasciculus (UF), superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) and inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF). Associations with social anxiety symptoms and heritability were estimated.<h4>Results</h4>Increased FA in the left and right SLF co-segregated with symptoms of social anxiety. These findings were coupled with decreased RD and MD. All characteristics of WM microstructure were estimated to be at least moderately heritable.<h4>Conclusion</h4>These findings suggest that alterations in WM microstructure in the SLF could be candidate endophenotypes of SAD, as they co-segregated within families genetically vulnerable for SAD and are heritable. These findings further elucidate the genetic susceptibility to SAD and improve our understanding of the overall etiology.
Project description:We examined the relationship among white matter (WM) tract integrity, WM hyperintensities (WMH), lobar gray matter (GM) volumes, and cognition in the cross-sectional Framingham Offspring Study. Six hundred eighty participants (71.7 ± 7.7 years) completed cognitive testing and magnetic resonance imaging. Diffusion tensor imaging probabilistic tractography was used to reconstruct major WM tracts. We computed tract-specific mean fractional anisotropy (FA) and tract-specific WMH ratio. Linear regressions identified relations between tracts and lobar GM volumes. Partial least squares regression examined associations between integrity of combined tracts, lobar GM volumes and cognition, including scores of memory and processing speed. Five tracts were particularly vulnerable to WMH, and tract-specific WMH volumes were inversely associated with tract-specific FA (p values < 0.05). Tract-specific FA related to lobar GM volumes. Memory was associated with lobar GM, while processing speed related to both tract integrity and lobar GM volumes. We conclude that subtle microstructural WM tract degeneration relates to specific lobar GM atrophy. The integrity of associated WM tracts and GM lobes differentially impacts memory and processing speed.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease (AD) is generally considered to be characterized by pathology in gray matter of the brain, but convergent evidence suggests that white matter degradation also plays a vital role in its pathogenesis. The evolution of white matter deterioration and its relationship with gray matter atrophy remains elusive in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), a prodromal stage of AD.We studied 155 cognitively normal (CN) and 27 'late' aMCI individuals with stable diagnosis over 2 years, and 39 'early' aMCI individuals who had converted from CN to aMCI at 2-year follow up. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography was used to reconstruct six white matter tracts three limbic tracts critical for episodic memory function - the fornix, the parahippocampal cingulum, and the uncinate fasciculus; two cortico-cortical association fiber tracts - superior longitudinal fasciculus and inferior longitudinal fasciculus; and one projection fiber tract - corticospinal tract. Microstructural integrity as measured by fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD) and axial diffusivity (AxD) was assessed for these tracts.Compared with CN, late aMCI had lower white matter integrity in the fornix, the parahippocampal cingulum, and the uncinate fasciculus, while early aMCI showed white matter damage in the fornix. In addition, fornical measures were correlated with hippocampal atrophy in late aMCI, whereas abnormality of the fornix in early aMCI occurred in the absence of hippocampal atrophy and did not correlate with hippocampal volumes.Limbic white matter tracts are preferentially affected in the early stages of cognitive dysfunction. Microstructural degradation of the fornix preceding hippocampal atrophy may serve as a novel imaging marker for aMCI at an early stage.
Project description:Compared to healthy controls, spinal cord injury (SCI) patients demonstrate white matter (WM) abnormalities in the brain. However, little progress has been made in comparing cerebral WM differences between SCI-subgroups. The purpose of this study was to investigate WM microstructure differences between paraplegia and quadriplegia using tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) and atlas-based analysis methods. Twenty-two SCI patients (11 cervical SCI and 11 thoracic SCI) and 22 age- and sex-matched healthy controls were included in this study. TBSS and atlas-based analyses were performed between SCI and control groups and between SCI-subgroups using multiple diffusion metrics, including fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD) and radial diffusivity (RD). Compared to controls, SCI patients had decreased FA and increased MD and RD in the corpus callosum (CC; genu and splenium), superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), corona radiata (CR), posterior thalamic radiation (PTR), right cingulum (cingulate gyrus; CCG) and right superior fronto-occipital fasciculus (SFOF). Cervical SCI patients had lower FA and higher RD in the left PTR than thoracic SCI patients. Time since injury had a negative correlation with FA within the right SFOF (<i>r</i> = -0.452, <i>p</i> = 0.046) and a positive association between the FA of left PTR and the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) sensory score (<i>r</i> = 0.428, <i>p</i> = 0.047). In conclusion, our study suggests that multiple cerebral WM tracts are damaged in SCI patients, and WM disruption in cervical SCI is worse than thoracic injury level, especially in the PTR region.
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has been known to damage the microstructural integrity of white matter (WM). However, only a few studies have assessed the brain regions in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Therefore, we sought to compare the DTI data between HIV patients with and without HAND using tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS).<h4>Materials and methods</h4>Twenty-two HIV-infected patients (10 with HAND and 12 without HAND) and 11 healthy controls (HC) were enrolled in this study. A whole-brain analysis of fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD), and axial diffusivity was performed with TBSS and a subsequent 20 tract-specific region-of-interest (ROI)-based analysis to localize and compare altered WM integrity in all group contrasts.<h4>Results</h4>Compared with HC, patients with HAND showed decreased FA in the right frontoparietal WM including the upper corticospinal tract (CST) and increased MD and RD in the bilateral frontoparietal WM, corpus callosum, bilateral CSTs and bilateral cerebellar peduncles. The DTI values did not significantly differ between HIV patients with and without HAND or between HIV patients without HAND and HC. In the ROI-based analysis, decreased FA was observed in the right superior longitudinal fasciculus and was significantly correlated with decreased information processing speed, memory, executive function, and fine motor function in HIV patients.<h4>Conclusion</h4>These results suggest that altered integrity of the frontoparietal WM contributes to cognitive dysfunction in HIV patients.
Project description:Previous diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies have shown white matter compromise in children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which may relate to reduced connectivity and impaired function of distributed networks. However, tract-specific evidence remains limited in ASD. We applied tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) for an unbiased whole-brain quantitative estimation of the fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusion (MD) and axial and radial diffusion of the white matter tracts in children and adolescents with ASD.DTI was performed in 26 ASD and 24 typically developing (TD) participants, aged 9-20 years. Groups were matched for age and IQ. Each participant's aligned FA, MD and axial and radial diffusion data were projected onto the mean FA skeleton representing the centers of all tracts and the resulting data fed into voxelwise group statistics.TBSS revealed decreased FA and increased MD and radial diffusion in the ASD group compared to the TD group in the corpus callosum, anterior and posterior limbs of the internal capsule, inferior longitudinal fasciculus, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, superior longitudinal fasciculus, cingulum, anterior thalamic radiation, and corticospinal tract. No single site with inverse effects (increased FA, reduced MD or radial diffusion in the ASD group) was detected. In clusters of significant group difference, age was positively correlated with FA and negatively correlated with MD and radial diffusion in the TD, but not the ASD group.Our findings reveal white matter compromise affecting numerous tracts in children and adolescents with ASD. Slightly varying patterns of diffusion abnormalities detected for some tracts may suggest tract-specific patterns of white matter abnormalities associated with ASD. Age-dependent effects further show that maturational changes (increasing FA, decreasing MD and radial diffusion with age) are diminished in ASD from school-age childhood into young adulthood.