Microstructural differences 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 journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

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 data of 7167 47- to 76-year-old neurologically healthy people (3368 men and 3799 women). Tract properties in terms of generalized fractional anisotropy, axial diffusivity, radial diffusivity, and mean diffusivity 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 4 age-difference patterns. The dominant pattern was lower generalized fractional anisotropy and higher axial diffusivity, radial diffusivity, and mean diffusivity with age, constituting 45 of 76 tracts, mostly involving the association, projection, and commissure fibers connecting the prefrontal lobe. The other 3 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 diffusion magnetic resonance imaging 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
Pages (from-to)160-172
Number of pages13
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Volume98
Early online date13 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Brain aging
  • White matter
  • Fiber degeneration
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • UK Biobank
  • diffusion MRI
  • Diffusion MRI

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