Widespread age-related differences in the human brain microstructure revealed by quantitative magnetic resonance imaging

Callaghan, M.F.; Freund, P.; Draganski, B.; Anderson, E.; Cappelletti, Marinella; Chowdhury, R.; Diedrichsen, J.; FitzGerald, T.H.B.; Smittenaar, P.; Helms, G.; Lutti, A. and Weiskopf, N.. 2014. Widespread age-related differences in the human brain microstructure revealed by quantitative magnetic resonance imaging. Neurobiology of Aging, 35(8), pp. 1862-1872. ISSN 0197-4580 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

A pressing need exists to disentangle age-related changes from pathologic neurodegeneration. This study aims to characterize the spatial pattern and age-related differences of biologically relevant measures invivo over the course of normal aging. Quantitative multiparameter maps that provide neuroimaging biomarkers for myelination and iron levels, parameters sensitive to aging, were acquired from 138 healthy volunteers (age range: 19-75years). Whole-brain voxel-wise analysis revealed a global pattern of age-related degeneration. Significant demyelination occurred principally in the white matter. The observed age-related differences in myelination were anatomically specific. In line with invasive histologic reports, higher age-related differences were seen in the genu of the corpus callosum than the splenium. Iron levels were significantly increased in the basal ganglia, red nucleus, and extensive cortical regions but decreased along the superior occipitofrontal fascicle and optic radiation. This whole-brain pattern of age-associated microstructural differences in the asymptomatic population provides insight into the neurobiology of aging. The results help build a quantitative baseline from which to examine and draw a dividing line between healthy aging and pathologic neurodegeneration.

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This work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (320030_135679, SPUM 33CM30_140332/1, and NCCR Synapsy [Bogdan Draganski]); Foundation Parkinson Switzerland, Foundation Synapsis, Novartis Foundation for medical–biological research, and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Kfo 247 [Bogdan Draganski]); the Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship and Project Grant (Marinella Cappelletti). The Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging is supported by core funding from the Wellcome Trust091593/Z/10/Z


3T; Aging; Magnetization transfer; MT; Quantitative; R1; R2*; Relaxation; T1; T2*; VBQ; Water content

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August 2014Published

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22 Jul 2014 06:21

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:00

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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