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Usefulness of visual evaluation of the anterior thalamic radiation by diffusion tensor tractography for differentiating between Alzheimer’s disease and elderly major depressive disorder patients

Authors Niida A, Niida R, Kuniyoshi K, Motomura M, Uechi A

Published Date April 2013 Volume 2013:6 Pages 189—200

DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/IJGM.S42953

Received 18 January 2013, Accepted 8 February 2013, Published 4 April 2013

Akira Niida,1 Richi Niida,2 Kazumasa Kuniyoshi,3 Makoto Motomura,4 Akihiko Uechi5
1Department of Radiology, Nanbu Hospital, Itoman City, Okinawa, Japan; 2Department of Psychiatry, Nanto Clinic, Urasoe City, Okinawa, Japan; 3Department of Neuropathic Internal Medicine, Nanbu Hospital, Itoman City, Okinawa, Japan; 4Department of Human Sciences, University of the Ryukyus, Nakagami Country, Okinawa, Japan; 5Cognitive Neuroscience Research Project, Kansai Gaidai University, Hirakata City, Osaka, Japan

Background and objective: Many surveys of neural integrity of the cerebral white matter with psychiatric diseases on diffusion tensor imaging have recently been performed, but these mainly utilize fractional anisotropy (FA) and the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values, and the results were inconsistent and not fully applied clinically. In this study, we investigated the possibility of differentiating between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and elderly major depressive disorder (MDD) patients in whom early-stage symptoms are difficult to diagnose, by visually evaluating cerebral nerve fascicles utilizing diffusion tensor tractography. We also measured and evaluated FA and ADC values at the same time.
Subjects and methods: The subjects included 13 AD patients (age: 69.5 ± 5.1 years), 19 MDD patients (65.8 ± 5.7 years), and 22 healthy control (HC) subjects (67.4 ± 4.8 years). Images were acquired using a 1.5T magnetic resonance imaging device and analyzed by diffusion tensor tractography analysis software.
Results: Depiction of the anterior thalamic radiation (ATR) tended to be poor in AD patients unlike in MDD patients and HC subjects. The FA values in the left superior longitudinal fasciculus and fornix (FX) in AD patients were significantly different from those in MDD patients and HC subjects. The ADC values in the bilateral ATR and left superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculi, left inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and FX in AD patients were significantly different from those in MDD patients and HC subjects.
Conclusion: Visual evaluation of the ATR in combination with the FA values of the left superior longitudinal fasciculus and FX and ADC values of the bilateral ATR, left superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculi, left inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and FX is useful for differentiating between AD and MDD patients, which further suggests that it may become a useful auxiliary diagnostic tool.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, anterior thalamic radiation, diffusion tensor imaging, diffusion tensor tractography, MRI

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