- Reduced hippocampal volume in healthy young ApoE4 carriers: an MRI study (2012)
- The E4 allele of the ApoE gene has consistently been shown to be related to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The E4 allele is also associated with functional and structural grey matter (GM) changes in healthy young, middle-aged and older subjects. Here, we assess volumes of deep grey matter structures of 22 healthy younger ApoE4 carriers and 22 non-carriers (20–38 years). Volumes of the nucleus accumbens, amygdala, caudate nucleus, hippocampus, pallidum, putamen, thalamus and brain stem were calculated by FMRIB's Integrated Registration and Segmentation Tool (FIRST) algorithm. A significant drop in volume was found in the right hippocampus of ApoE4 carriers (ApoE4+) relative to non-carriers (ApoE4−), while there was a borderline significant decrease in the volume of the left hippocampus of ApoE4 carriers. The volumes of no other structures were found to be significantly affected by genotype. Atrophy has been found to be a sensitive marker of neurodegenerative changes, and our results show that within a healthy young population, the presence of the ApoE4+ carrier gene leads to volume reduction in a structure that is vitally important for memory formation. Our results suggest that the hippocampus may be particularly vulnerable to further degeneration in ApoE4 carriers as they enter middle and old age. Although volume reductions were noted bilaterally in the hippocampus, atrophy was more pronounced in the right hippocampus. This finding relates to previous work which has noted a compensatory increase in right hemisphere activity in ApoE4 carriers in response to preclinical declines in memory function. Possession of the ApoE4 allele may lead to greater predilection for right hemisphere atrophy even in healthy young subjects in their twenties.
- Different patterns of white matter degeneration using multiple diffusion indices and volumetric data in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer patients (2012)
- Alzheimeŕs disease (AD) represents the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder that causes cognitive decline in old age. In its early stages, AD is associated with microstructural abnormalities in white matter (WM). In the current study, multiple indices of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and brain volumetric measurements were employed to comprehensively investigate the landscape of AD pathology. The sample comprised 58 individuals including cognitively normal subjects (controls), amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD patients. Relative to controls, both MCI and AD subjects showed widespread changes of anisotropic fraction (FA) in the corpus callosum, cingulate and uncinate fasciculus. Mean diffusivity and radial changes were also observed in AD patients in comparison with controls. After controlling for the gray matter atrophy the number of regions of significantly lower FA in AD patients relative to controls was decreased; nonetheless, unique areas of microstructural damage remained, e.g., the corpus callosum and uncinate fasciculus. Despite sample size limitations, the current results suggest that a combination of secondary and primary degeneration occurrs in MCI and AD, although the secondary degeneration appears to have a more critical role during the stages of disease involving dementia.
- Sexual dimorphism in healthy aging and mild cognitive impairment: a DTI study (2012)
- Previous PET and MRI studies have indicated that the degree to which pathology translates into clinical symptoms is strongly dependent on sex with women more likely to express pathology as a diagnosis of AD, whereas men are more resistant to clinical symptoms in the face of the same degree of pathology. Here we use DTI to investigate the difference between male and female white matter tracts in healthy older participants (24 women, 16 men) and participants with mild cognitive impairment (21 women, 12 men). Differences between control and MCI participants were found in fractional anisotropy (FA), radial diffusion (DR), axial diffusion (DA) and mean diffusion (MD). A significant main effect of sex was also reported for FA, MD and DR indices, with male control and male MCI participants having significantly more microstructural damage than their female counterparts. There was no sex by diagnosis interaction. Male MCIs also had significantly less normalised grey matter (GM) volume than female MCIs. However, in terms of absolute brain volume, male controls had significantly more brain volume than female controls. Normalised GM and WM volumes were found to decrease significantly with age with no age by sex interaction. Overall, these data suggest that the same degree of cognitive impairment is associated with greater structural damage in men compared with women.
- White matter differences between healthy young ApoE4 carriers and non-carriers identified with tractography and support vector machines (2012)
- The apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4) is an established risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Previous work has shown that this allele is associated with functional (fMRI) changes as well structural grey matter (GM) changes in healthy young, middle-aged and older subjects. Here, we assess the diffusion characteristics and the white matter (WM) tracts of healthy young (20-38 years) ApoE4 carriers and non-carriers. No significant differences in diffusion indices were found between young carriers (ApoE4+) and non-carriers (ApoE4-). There were also no significant differences between the groups in terms of normalised GM or WM volume. A feature selection algorithm (ReliefF) was used to select the most salient voxels from the diffusion data for subsequent classification with support vector machines (SVMs). SVMs were capable of classifying ApoE4 carrier and non-carrier groups with an extremely high level of accuracy. The top 500 voxels selected by ReliefF were then used as seeds for tractography which identified a WM network that included regions of the parietal lobe, the cingulum bundle and the dorsolateral frontal lobe. There was a non-significant decrease in volume of this WM network in the ApoE4 carrier group. Our results indicate that there are subtle WM differences between healthy young ApoE4 carriers and non-carriers and that the WM network identified may be particularly vulnerable to further degeneration in ApoE4 carriers as they enter middle and old age.
- Using support vector machines with multiple indices of diffusion for automated classification of mild cognitive impairment (2012)
- Few studies have looked at the potential of using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in conjunction with machine learning algorithms in order to automate the classification of healthy older subjects and subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Here we apply DTI to 40 healthy older subjects and 33 MCI subjects in order to derive values for multiple indices of diffusion within the white matter voxels of each subject. DTI measures were then used together with support vector machines (SVMs) to classify control and MCI subjects. Greater than 90% sensitivity and specificity was achieved using this method, demonstrating the potential of a joint DTI and SVM pipeline for fast, objective classification of healthy older and MCI subjects. Such tools may be useful for large scale drug trials in Alzheimer’s disease where the early identification of subjects with MCI is critical.
- Elevated CSF levels of TACE activity and soluble TNF receptors in subjects with mild cognitive impairment and patients with Alzheimer's disease (2011)
- We recently reported that expression levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptors, TNFR1 and TNFR2, are significantly changed in the brains and cerebral spinal cerebral fluid (CSF) with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Moreover, we also found that, in an Alzheimer's mouse model, genetic deletion of TNF receptor (TNFR1) reduces amyloid plaques and amyloid beta peptides (Abeta) production through beta-secretase (BACE1) regulation. TNF-alpha converting enzyme (TACE/ADAM-17) does not only cleave pro- TNF-alpha but also TNF receptors, however, whether the TACE activity was changed in the CSF was not clear. In this study, we examined TACE in the CSF in 32 AD patients and 27 age-matched healthy controls (HCs). Interestingly, we found that TACE activity was significantly elevated in the CSF from AD patients compared with HCs. Furthermore, we also assayed the CSF levels of TACE cleaved soluble forms of TNFR1 and TNFR2 in the same patients. We found that AD patients had higher levels of both TACE cleaved soluble TNFR1 (sTNFR1) and TNFR2 (sTNFR2) in the CSF compared with aged- and gender-matched healthy controls. Levels of sTNFR1 correlated strongly with the levels of sTNFR2 (rs = 0.567-0.663, p < 0.01). The levels of both sTNFR1 and sTNFR2 significantly correlated with the TACE activity (rs = 0.491-0.557, p < 0.05). To examine if changes in TACE activity and in levels of cleaved soluble TNFRs are an early event in the course of Alzheimer's disease, we measured these molecules in the CSF from 47 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) which is considered as a preclinical stage of AD. Unexpectedly, we found significantly higher levels of TACE activity and soluble TNFR in the MCI group. These results suggest that TACE activity and soluble TNF receptors may be potential diagnostic candidate biomarkers in AD and MCI.
- Multiple indices of diffusion identifies white matter damage in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease (2011)
- The study of multiple indices of diffusion, including axial (DA), radial (DR) and mean diffusion (MD), as well as fractional anisotropy (FA), enables WM damage in Alzheimer's disease (AD) to be assessed in detail. Here, tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) were performed on scans of 40 healthy elders, 19 non-amnestic MCI (MCIna) subjects, 14 amnestic MCI (MCIa) subjects and 9 AD patients. Significantly higher DA was found in MCIna subjects compared to healthy elders in the right posterior cingulum/precuneus. Significantly higher DA was also found in MCIa subjects compared to healthy elders in the left prefrontal cortex, particularly in the forceps minor and uncinate fasciculus. In the MCIa versus MCIna comparison, significantly higher DA was found in large areas of the left prefrontal cortex. For AD patients, the overlap of FA and DR changes and the overlap of FA and MD changes were seen in temporal, parietal and frontal lobes, as well as the corpus callosum and fornix. Analysis of differences between the AD versus MCIna, and AD versus MCIa contrasts, highlighted regions that are increasingly compromised in more severe disease stages. Microstructural damage independent of gross tissue loss was widespread in later disease stages. Our findings suggest a scheme where WM damage begins in the core memory network of the temporal lobe, cingulum and prefrontal regions, and spreads beyond these regions in later stages. DA and MD indices were most sensitive at detecting early changes in MCIa.
- Spurensuche nach den Korrelaten des Bewusstseins : Christof Koch betrachtet das Bewusstsein aus neurobiologischer Sicht (2005)
- Rezension zu: Christof Koch : Bewusstsein - ein neurobiologisches Rätsel, Heidelberg, Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3-8274-1578-0, 504 Seiten, 48 Euro.