3D tract-specific local and global analysis of white matter integrity in Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive decline in memory and other aspects of cognitive function. Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) offers a non-invasive approach to delineate the effects of AD on white matter (WM) integrity. Previous studies calculated either some summary statistics over regions of interest (ROI analysis) or some statistics along mean skeleton lines (Tract Based Spatial Statistic [TBSS]), so they cannot quantify subtle local WM alterations along major tracts. Here, a comprehensive WM analysis framework to map disease effects on 3D tracts both locally and globally, based on a study of 200 subjects: 49 healthy elderly normal controls, 110 with mild cognitive impairment, and 41 AD patients has been presented. 18 major WM tracts were extracted with our automated clustering algorithm—autoMATE (automated Multi-Atlas Tract Extraction); we then extracted multiple DWI-derived parameters of WM integrity along the WM tracts across all subjects. A novel statistical functional analysis method—FADTTS (Functional Analysis for Diffusion Tensor Tract Statistics) was applied to quantify degenerative patterns along WM tracts across different stages of AD. Gradually increasing WM alterations were found in all tracts in successive stages of AD. Among all 18 WM tracts, the fornix was most adversely affected. Among all the parameters, mean diffusivity (MD) was the most sensitive to WM alterations in AD. This study provides a systematic workflow to examine WM integrity across automatically computed 3D tracts in AD and may be useful in studying other neurological and psychiatric disorders. Hum Brain Mapp 38:1191–1207, 2017.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1191-1207
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • diffusion-weighted MRI
  • functional statistical analysis
  • tract-specific analysis
  • white matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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