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Characterizing aging in the human brainstem using quantitative multimodal MRI analysis

Lambert, C; Chowdhury, R; Fitzgerald, TH; Fleming, SM; Lutti, A; Hutton, C; Draganski, B; ... Ashburner, J; + view all (2013) Characterizing aging in the human brainstem using quantitative multimodal MRI analysis. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience , 7 , Article 462. 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00462. Green open access

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Abstract

Aging is ubiquitous to the human condition. The MRI correlates of healthy aging have been extensively investigated using a range of modalities, including volumetric MRI, quantitative MRI (qMRI), and diffusion tensor imaging. Despite this, the reported brainstem related changes remain sparse. This is, in part, due to the technical and methodological limitations in quantitatively assessing and statistically analyzing this region. By utilizing a new method of brainstem segmentation, a large cohort of 100 healthy adults were assessed in this study for the effects of aging within the human brainstem in vivo. Using qMRI, tensor-based morphometry (TBM), and voxel-based quantification (VBQ), the volumetric and quantitative changes across healthy adults between 19 and 75 years were characterized. In addition to the increased R2* in substantia nigra corresponding to increasing iron deposition with age, several novel findings were reported in the current study. These include selective volumetric loss of the brachium conjunctivum, with a corresponding decrease in magnetization transfer and increase in proton density (PD), accounting for the previously described "midbrain shrinkage." Additionally, we found increases in R1 and PD in several pontine and medullary structures. We consider these changes in the context of well-characterized, functional age-related changes, and propose potential biophysical mechanisms. This study provides detailed quantitative analysis of the internal architecture of the brainstem and provides a baseline for further studies of neurodegenerative diseases that are characterized by early, pre-clinical involvement of the brainstem, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

Type: Article
Title: Characterizing aging in the human brainstem using quantitative multimodal MRI analysis
Location: Switzerland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00462
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00462
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 Lambert, Chowdhury, FitzGerald, Fleming, Lutti, Hutton, Draganski, Frackowiak and Ashburner. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).
Keywords: Aging, Brainstem, Quantitative MRI, Tensor-based morphometry, Voxel-based quantification
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1406078
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