Relationship of cognitive measures and gray and white matter in Alzheimer's disease

Baxter LC, Sparks DL, Johnson SC, Lenoski B, Lopez JE, Connor DJ, Sabbagh MN

J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Aug;9(3):253-60.


OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between commonly used screening cognitive measures with gray and white matter integrity in patients with mild to moderate AD. BACKGROUND: New neuroimaging techniques, such as voxel-based morphometry (VBM), make it possible to study the relationship between structural brain integrity and cognitive functioning in AD. METHODS: Gray and white matter integrity was evaluated using VBM in fifteen patients with mild to moderate AD. ADAS-Cog and MMSE scores were also performed as part of the baseline assessment for a larger clinical trial in the AD patients. Correlations between cognitive measures and VBM were performed. RESULTS: Both the ADAS-Cog and the MMSE showed a similar relationship with gray matter degeneration, reflecting greater cognitive impairment with decreased gray matter in the left temporal lobe. However, the MMSE score was much more reflective of underlying white matter changes than ADAS-Cog scores, particularly in frontotemporal region. These findings suggest that the ADAS-Cog and MMSE reflect different aspects of the underlying brain changes observed in AD. The ADAS-Cog was more specific to gray matter integrity whereas the MMSE reflected a more global reduction in both gray and white matter. CONCLUSIONS: These results support using neuroimaging markers of neural integrity as an important consideration when evaluating treatment efficacy. Furthermore, whole-brain analyses such as VBM help to evaluate neural systems that are not necessarily targeted by the treatment.

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