Cortical microstructure in primary progressive aphasia: a multicenter study
Alzheimers Res Ther. 2022 Feb 9;14(1):27. doi: 10.1186/s13195-022-00974-0.
BACKGROUND: Cortical mean diffusivity is a novel imaging metric sensitive to early changes in neurodegenerative syndromes. Higher cortical mean diffusivity values reflect microstructural disorganization and have been proposed as a sensitive biomarker that might antedate macroscopic cortical changes. We aimed to test the hypothesis that cortical mean diffusivity is more sensitive than cortical thickness to detect cortical changes in primary progressive aphasia (PPA).
METHODS: In this multicenter, case-control study, we recruited 120 patients with PPA (52 non-fluent, 31 semantic, and 32 logopenic variants; and 5 GRN-related PPA) as well as 89 controls from three centers. The 3-Tesla MRI protocol included structural and diffusion-weighted sequences. Disease severity was assessed with the Clinical Dementia Rating scale. Cortical thickness and cortical mean diffusivity were computed using a surface-based approach.
RESULTS: The comparison between each PPA variant and controls revealed cortical mean diffusivity increases and cortical thinning in overlapping regions, reflecting the canonical loci of neurodegeneration of each variant. Importantly, cortical mean diffusivity increases also expanded to other PPA-related areas and correlated with disease severity in all PPA groups. Cortical mean diffusivity was also increased in patients with very mild PPA when only minimal cortical thinning was observed and showed a good correlation with measures of disease severity.
CONCLUSIONS: Cortical mean diffusivity shows promise as a sensitive biomarker for the study of the neurodegeneration-related microstructural changes in PPA.