Influence of Age on Global and Regional Brain Stiffness in Young and Middle-Aged Adults

Tomohiro Takamura, Utaroh Motosugi, Yu Sasaki, Takashi Kakegawa, Kazuyuki Sato, Kevin J. Glaser, Richard L. Ehman, Hiroshi Onishi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: An understanding of potential age-related changes in brain stiffness and its regional variation is important for further clinical application of MR elastography. Purpose: To investigate the effect of age on global and regional brain stiffness in young and middle-aged adults. Study Type: Prospective. Subjects: Fifty subjects with normal brains and aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s (five men, five women per decade). Field Strength/Sequence: 3.0T MRI and elastography with a vibration frequency of 60 Hz. Assessment: Stiffness was measured in nine brain regions (cerebrum, temporal lobes, sensorimotor areas, frontotemporal composite region, deep gray matter and white matter (deep GM/WM), parietal lobes, occipital lobes, frontal lobes, and cerebellum) using an atlas-based region-of-interest approach. The influence of age on regional brain stiffness was evaluated. Statistical Tests: Multiple linear regression analysis, followed by Dunnett's multiple comparisons test, using subjects in their 20s as controls. Results: Following adjustment for sex, multiple linear regression revealed a significant negative correlation between age and stiffness of the cerebrum (P < 0.0001), temporal lobes (P < 0.0001), sensorimotor areas (P < 0.0001), frontotemporal composite region (P < 0.0001), deep GM/WM (P = 0.0028), parietal lobes (P < 0.0001), occipital lobes (P = 0.0055), and frontal lobes (P < 0.0001). Dunnett's multiple comparison test showed that the stiffness of the sensorimotor areas, frontotemporal composite region, and frontal lobes was significantly decreased in subjects in their 40s (P < 0.0367), 50s (P < 0.0001), and 60s (P < 0.0001), while that of the cerebrum, temporal lobes, and parietal lobes was significantly decreased only in subjects in their 50s (P < 0.0012) and 60s (P < 0.0031) when compared with the controls. Data Conclusion: There is an age-related decrease in brain stiffness that varies across the different regions. Level of Evidence: 1. Technical Efficacy Stage: 2. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2020;51:727–733.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-733
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • age-related
  • brain stiffness
  • global
  • magnetic resonance elastography
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • regional

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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