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Regional glucose metabolic decreases with ageing are associated with microstructural white matter changes: a simultaneous PET/MR study

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

PURPOSE: Human ageing is associated with a regional reduction in cerebral neuronal activity as assessed by numerous studies on brain glucose metabolism and perfusion, grey matter (GM) density and white matter (WM) integrity. As glucose metabolism may impact energetics to maintain myelin integrity, but changes in functional connectivity may also alter regional metabolism, we conducted a cross-sectional simultaneous FDG PET/MR study in a large cohort of healthy volunteers with a wide age range, to directly assess the underlying associations between reduced glucose metabolism, GM atrophy and decreased WM integrity in a single ageing cohort. METHODS: In 94 healthy subjects between 19.9 and 82.5 years (mean 50.1 ± 17.1; 47 M/47F, MMSE ≥ 28), simultaneous FDG-PET, structural MR and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) were performed. Voxel-wise associations between age and grey matter (GM) density, RBV partial-volume corrected (PVC) glucose metabolism, white matter (WM) fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD), and age were assessed. Clusters representing changes in glucose metabolism correlating significantly with ageing were used as seed regions for tractography. Both linear and quadratic ageing models were investigated. RESULTS: An expected age-related reduction in GM density was observed bilaterally in the frontal, lateral and medial temporal cortex, striatum and cerebellum. After PVC, relative FDG uptake was negatively correlated with age in the inferior and midfrontal, cingulate and parietal cortex and subcortical regions, bilaterally. FA decreased with age throughout the entire brain WM. Four white matter tracts were identified connecting brain regions with declining glucose metabolism with age. Within these, relative FDG uptake in both origin and target clusters correlated positively with FA (0.32 ≤ r ≤ 0.71) and negatively with MD (- 0.75 ≤ r ≤  - 0.41). CONCLUSION: After appropriate PVC, we demonstrated that regional cerebral glucose metabolic declines with age and that these changes are related to microstructural changes in the interconnecting WM tracts. The temporal course and potential causality between ageing effects on glucose metabolism and WM integrity should be further investigated in longitudinal cohort PET/MR studies.
ISSN: 1619-7070
Issue: 2
Volume: 49
Pages: 664 - 680
Publication year:2021
BOF-publication weight:10
CSS-citation score:1
Authors from:Higher Education