The association of brain structure with gait velocity in older adults: a quantitative volumetric analysis of brain MRI
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While cortical processes play an important role in controlling locomotion, the underlying structural brain changes associated with slowing of gait in aging are not yet fully established. Our study aimed to examine the relationship between cortical gray matter volume (GM), white matter volume (WM), ventricular volume (VV), hippocampal and hippocampal subfield volumes, and gait velocity in older adults free of dementia.
Gait and cognitive performance was tested in 112 community-residing adults, age 70 years and over, participating in the Einstein Aging Study. Gait velocity (cm/s) was obtained using an instrumented walkway. Volumetric MRI measures were estimated using a FreeSurfer software. We examined the cross-sectional relationship of GM, WM, VV, and hippocampal total and subfield volumes and gait velocity using linear regression models. In complementary models, the effect of memory performance on the relationship between gait velocity and regional volumes was evaluated.
Slower gait velocity was associated with smaller cortical GM and total hippocampal volumes. There was no association between gait velocity and WM or VV. Among hippocampal subfields, only smaller presubiculum volume was significantly associated with decrease in gait velocity. Addition of the memory performance to the models attenuated the association between gait velocity and all volumetric measures.
Our findings indicate that total GM and hippocampal volumes as well as specific hippocampal subfield volumes are inversely associated with locomotor function. These associations are probably affected by cognitive status of study population.
KeywordsVolumetric MRI Gait velocity Cortical volume Hippocampal subfields Memory
This research was supported by National Institute on Aging Grants AG03949 and AG026728, The Leonard and Sylva Marx Foundation and the Czap Foundation.
Ethical standards and patient consent
We declare that all human studies have been approved by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Ethics Committee and have therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. We declare that all participants gave informed consent prior to inclusion in this study.
Conflict of interest
We declare that we have no conflict of interest.
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