Multilevel Deficiency of White Matter Connectivity Networks in Alzheimer's Disease: A Diffusion MRI Study with DTI and HARDI Models

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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia in elderly people. It is an irreversible and progressive brain disease. In this paper, we utilized diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) to detect abnormal topological organization of white matter (WM) structural networks. We compared the differences between WM connectivity characteristics at global, regional, and local levels in 26 patients with probable AD and 16 normal control (NC) elderly subjects, using connectivity networks constructed with the diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) model and the high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI) model, respectively. At the global level, we found that the WM structural networks of both AD and NC groups had a small-world topology; however, the AD group showed a significant decrease in both global and local efficiency, but an increase in clustering coefficient and the average shortest path length. We further found that the AD patients had significantly decreased nodal efficiency at the regional level, as well as weaker connections in multiple local cortical and subcortical regions, such as precuneus, temporal lobe, hippocampus, and thalamus. The HARDI model was found to be more advantageous than the DTI model, as it was more sensitive to the deficiencies in AD at all of the three levels.




Wang, T., Shi, F., Jin, Y., Yap, P. T., Wee, C. Y., Zhang, J., … Shen, D. (2016). Multilevel Deficiency of White Matter Connectivity Networks in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Diffusion MRI Study with DTI and HARDI Models. Neural Plasticity, 2016.

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