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Neuroradiology

, Volume 49, Issue 12, pp 967–976 | Cite as

Precuneus atrophy in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease: a morphometric structural MRI study

  • Giorgos KarasEmail author
  • Philip Scheltens
  • Serge Rombouts
  • Ronald van Schijndel
  • Martin Klein
  • Bethany Jones
  • Wiesje van der Flier
  • Hugo Vrenken
  • Frederik Barkhof
Diagnostic Neuroradiology

Abstract

Introduction

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) usually first presents in elderly patients, but may also develop at an earlier age. Patients with an early age at onset tend to present with complaints other than memory impairment, such as visuospatial problems or apraxia, which may reflect a different distribution of cortical involvement. In this study we set out to investigate whether age at onset in patients with AD determines the pattern of atrophy on cerebral MRI scans.

Methods

We examined 55 patients with AD over a wide age range and analyzed their 3-D T1-weighted structural MRI scans in standard space using voxel-based morphometry (VBM). Regression analysis was performed to estimate loss of grey matter as a function of age, corrected for mini-mental state examination (MMSE) scores and sex.

Results

The VBM analyses identified multiple areas (including the temporal and parietal lobes), showing more atrophy with advancing age. By contrast, a younger age at onset was found to be associated with lower grey matter density in the precuneus. Regionalized volumetric analysis of this region confirmed the existence of disproportionate atrophy in the precuneus in patients with early-onset AD. Application of a multivariate model with precuneus grey matter density as input, showed that precuneal and hippocampal atrophy are independent from each other. Additionally, we found that a smaller precuneus is associated with impaired visuospatial functioning.

Conclusion

Our findings support the notion that age at onset modulates the distribution of cortical involvement, and that disproportionate precuneus atrophy is more prominent in patients with a younger age of onset.

Keywords

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease Voxel-based morphometry Precuneus 

Notes

Acknowledgements

G. Karas is the recipient of Grant 2001-014 by the “Stichting Alzheimer Nederland” and S.A.R.B. Rombouts is the recipient of Grant H00.17 from “Hersenstichting Nederland”. The clinical database of the Alzheimer Center is supported by a grant from Stichting Dioraphte. Additional support was received from the Stichting Alzheimer & Neuropsychiatrie Foundation.

Conflict of interest statement

We declare that we have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giorgos Karas
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Philip Scheltens
    • 3
    • 5
  • Serge Rombouts
    • 3
    • 4
  • Ronald van Schijndel
    • 2
    • 4
  • Martin Klein
    • 6
  • Bethany Jones
    • 3
    • 5
  • Wiesje van der Flier
    • 3
  • Hugo Vrenken
    • 2
  • Frederik Barkhof
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Diagnostic RadiologyVrije Universiteit Medical CentreAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Image Analysis CenterVrije Universiteit Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Alzheimer CenterVrije Universiteit Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Clinical Physics and InformaticsVrije Universiteit Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of Clinical NeurologyVrije Universiteit Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Department of Medical PsychologyVrije Universiteit Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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