We aimed to characterize dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) by the quantitative MRI parameters of longitudinal relaxation time (qT1) and transverse relaxation time (qT2). These parameters reflect potential pathological changes in tissue microstructures, which may be detectable noninvasively in brain areas without evident atrophy, so may have potential value in revealing the early neuropathological changes in DLB. We conducted a cross-sectional study of subjects with DLB (N = 35) and similarly aged control participants (N = 35). All subjects underwent a detailed clinical and neuropsychological assessment and structural and quantitative 3T MRI. Quantitative MRI maps were obtained using relaxation time mapping methods. Statistical analysis was performed on gray matter qT1 and qT2 values. We found significant alterations of quantitative parameters in DLB compared to controls. In particular, qT1 decreases in bilateral temporal lobes, right parietal lobes, basal ganglia including left putamen, left caudate nucleus and left amygdala, and left hippocampus/parahippocampus; qT2 decreases in left putamen and increases in left precuneus. These regions showed only partial overlap with areas where grey matter loss was found, making atrophy an unlikely explanation for our results. Our findings support that DLB is predominantly associated with changes in posterior regions, such as visual association areas, and subcortical structures, and that qT1 and qT2 measurement can detect subtle changes not seen on structural volumetric imaging. Hence, quantitative MRI may compliment other imaging techniques in detecting early changes in DLB and in understanding neurobiological changes associated with the disorder.
- Lewy body disease
- quantitative MRI