Tissue microstructural changes in dementia with Lewy bodies revealed by quantitative MRI
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We aimed to characterize dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) by the quantitative MRI parameters of longitudinal relaxation time (qT1) and transverse relaxation time (qT2). These parameters reflect potential pathological changes in tissue microstructures, which may be detectable noninvasively in brain areas without evident atrophy, so may have potential value in revealing the early neuropathological changes in DLB. We conducted a cross-sectional study of subjects with DLB (N = 35) and similarly aged control participants (N = 35). All subjects underwent a detailed clinical and neuropsychological assessment and structural and quantitative 3T MRI. Quantitative MRI maps were obtained using relaxation time mapping methods. Statistical analysis was performed on gray matter qT1 and qT2 values. We found significant alterations of quantitative parameters in DLB compared to controls. In particular, qT1 decreases in bilateral temporal lobes, right parietal lobes, basal ganglia including left putamen, left caudate nucleus and left amygdala, and left hippocampus/parahippocampus; qT2 decreases in left putamen and increases in left precuneus. These regions showed only partial overlap with areas where grey matter loss was found, making atrophy an unlikely explanation for our results. Our findings support that DLB is predominantly associated with changes in posterior regions, such as visual association areas, and subcortical structures, and that qT1 and qT2 measurement can detect subtle changes not seen on structural volumetric imaging. Hence, quantitative MRI may compliment other imaging techniques in detecting early changes in DLB and in understanding neurobiological changes associated with the disorder.
KeywordsDementia Lewy body disease Quantitative MRI Neuroimaging VBQ
We thank Nikolaus Weiskopf for insightful discussion on voxel-based quantification methods. The study was funded by the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust (grant ref: 05/JTA) and was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre and the Biomedical Research Unit in Lewy Body Dementia based at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust and Newcastle University and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and Biomedical Research Unit in Dementia based at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Cambridge. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.
Conflicts of interest
L. Su, A. Blamire, R. Watson, J. He and B. Aribisala report no disclosures. J. O’Brien has been a consultant for GE Healthcare, Servier, and Bayer Healthcare and has received honoraria for talks from Pfizer, GE Healthcare, Eisai, Shire, Lundbeck, Lilly, and Novartis.
This research was approved by NHS National Research Ethics Service, Newcastle & North Tyneside 1 Research Ethics Committee on the 11th September 2008 (No. 05/Q0905/217).
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