Microstructural changes in white matter tracts across middle-to-late adulthood: A diffusion MRI study on 7167 UK Biobank participants

Wen-Yih Tseng, Yung-Chin Hsu, Chang-Le Chen, Yun-Jing Kang, Te-Wei Kao, Pin-Yu Chen, Gordon Waiter* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

White matter fiber tracts demonstrate heterogeneous vulnerabilities to aging effects. Here, we estimated age-related differences in tract properties using UK Biobank diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) data of 7167 47–76-year-old neurologically healthy people (3368 men and 3799 women). Tract properties in terms of generalized fractional anisotropy (GFA), axial diffusivity (AD), radial diffusivity (RD), and mean diffusivity (MD), were sampled on 76 fiber tracts; for each tract, age-related differences were estimated by fitting these indices against age in a linear model. This cross-sectional study demonstrated four age-difference patterns. The dominant pattern was lower GFA and higher AD, RD, and MD with age, constituting 45 of 76 tracts, mostly involving the association, projection and commissure fibers connecting the prefrontal lobe. The other three patterns constituted only 14 tracts, with atypical age differences in
diffusion indices, and mainly involved parietal, occipital, and temporal cortices. By analyzing the large volume of dMRI data available from the UK Biobank, the study has provided a detailed description of heterogeneous age-related differences in tract properties over the whole brain which generally supports the myelodegeneration hypothesis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Oct 2020

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