Magnetic resonance spectroscopy has demonstrated metabolite changes in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB); however, their pattern and relationship to clinical symptoms is unclear. To determine whether the spatial patterns of brain-metabolite changes in AD and DLB are regional or diffused, and to examine whether the key metabolite levels are associated with cognitive and non-cognitive symptoms, we acquired whole-brain spatially resolved 3T magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) data from subjects with AD (N=36), DLB (N=35) and similarly aged controls (N=35). Voxel-wise measurement of N-acetylaspartate to creatine (NAA/Cr), choline to Cr (Cho/Cr), myo-inositol to Cr (mI/Cr) as well as glutamate and glutamine to Cr (Glx/Cr) ratios were determined using MRSI. Compared with controls, AD and DLB groups showed a significant decrease in most brain metabolites, with NAA/Cr, Cho/Cr and mI/Cr levels being reduced in posterior cingulate, thalamus, frontotemporal areas and basal ganglia. The Glx/Cr level was more widely decreased in DLB (posterior cingulate, hippocampus, temporal regions and caudate) than in AD (only in posterior cingulate). DLB was also associated with increased levels of Cho/Cr, NAA/Cr and mI/Cr in occipital regions. Changes in metabolism in the brain were correlated with cognitive and non-cognitive symptoms in the DLB but not in the AD group. The different patterns between AD and DLB may have implications for improving diagnosis, better understanding disease-specific neurobiology and targeting therapeutics. In addition, the study raised important questions about the role of occipital neuroinflammation and glial activation as well as the glutamatergic treatment in DLB.
Su, L., Blamire, A. M., Watson, R., He, J., Hayes, L., & O'Brien, J. T. (2016). Whole-brain patterns of 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging in Alzheimer's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. Translational Psychiatry, 6, 1-8. [e877]. https://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2016.140