Loss of cerebral white matter structural integrity tracks the gray matter metabolic decline in normal aging

P. Kochunov, A. E. Ramage, J. L. Lancaster, D. A. Robin, S. Narayana, T. Coyle, D. R. Royall, P. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Relationships between structural MRI-based markers of declining cerebral integrity, and regional PET measurements of 18FDG uptake have not been studied well in normal aging. In this manuscript we relate changes in cerebral morphology to regional cerebral glucose uptake for 14 major cortical areas in 19 healthy older individuals (age 59-92 years). Measurements of cerebral integrity included gray matter (GM) thickness, sulcal and intergyral spans, fractional anisotropy (FA) of water diffusion and volume of hyperintense WM (HWM) lesions. 18FDG-PET measurements were converted to standard uptake values and corrected for partial volume artifact. Following this, cortical FDG uptake was significantly correlated with several indices of WM integrity that we previously observed to be sensitive to cognitive decline in executive function, including intergyral span and HWM volumes. Our findings suggest that the age-related decline in white matter integrity, observed as increases in HWM lesions, intergyral spans and reduction in FA, correlated with a decline in the global and regional cerebral glucose uptake. Our findings support the emerging consensus that WM integrity indices are sensitive predictors of declining cerebral health in normal aging. Specifically, age-related WM degradation in the thinly myelinated association tracts appears to track the decreases in global and regional rates of glucose uptake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-28
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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