White matter microstructural abnormalities and default network degeneration are associated with early memory deficit in Alzheimer's disease continuum

Citation:

Ji F, Pasternak O, Ng KK, Chong JSX, Liu S, Zhang L, Shim HY, Loke YM, Tan BY, Venketasubramanian N, et al. White matter microstructural abnormalities and default network degeneration are associated with early memory deficit in Alzheimer's disease continuum. Sci Rep. 2019;9 (1) :4749.

Date Published:

2019 Mar 18

Abstract:

Instead of assuming a constant relationship between brain abnormalities and memory impairment, we aimed to examine the stage-dependent contributions of multimodal brain structural and functional deterioration to memory impairment in the Alzheimer's disease (AD) continuum. We assessed grey matter volume, white matter (WM) microstructural measures (free-water (FW) and FW-corrected fractional anisotropy), and functional connectivity of the default mode network (DMN) in 54 amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and 46 AD. We employed a novel sparse varying coefficient model to investigate how the associations between abnormal brain measures and memory impairment varied throughout disease continuum. We found lower functional connectivity in the DMN was related to worse memory across AD continuum. Higher widespread white matter FW and lower fractional anisotropy in the fornix showed a stronger association with memory impairment in the early aMCI stage; such WM-memory associations then decreased with increased dementia severity. Notably, the effect of the DMN atrophy occurred in early aMCI stage, while the effect of the medial temporal atrophy occurred in the AD stage. Our study provided evidence to support the hypothetical progression models underlying memory dysfunction in AD cascade and underscored the importance of FW increases and DMN degeneration in early stage of memory deficit.