MR elastography demonstrates unique regional brain stiffness patterns in dementias

Mona ElSheikh, Arvin Arani, Avital Perry, Bradley F. Boeve, Fredric B. Meyer, Rodolfo Savica, Richard L. Ehman, John Huston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to investigate age-corrected brain MR elastography (MRE) findings in four dementia cohorts (Alzheimer disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, and normal pressure hydrocephalus) and determine the potential use as a differentiating biomarker in dementia subtypes. SUBJECTS AND METHODS. Institutional review board approval and written informed consent were obtained to perform MRE on 84 subjects: 20 patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus, eight with Alzheimer disease, five with dementia with Lewy bodies, five with frontotemporal dementia, and 46 cognitively normal control subjects. Shear waves of 60-Hz vibration frequency were transmitted into the brain using a pillowlike passive driver, and brain stiffness was determined in eight different regions (cerebrum, frontal, occipital, parietal, temporal, deep gray matter-white matter, sensorimotor cortex, and cerebellum). All stiffness values were age-corrected and compared with control subjects. The Wilcoxon rank sum test and linear regression were used for statistical analysis. RESULTS. Regional stiffness patterns unique to each dementing disorder were observed. Patients with Alzheimer disease and frontotemporal dementia showed decreased cerebral stiffness (p = 0.001 and p = 0.002, respectively) with regional softening of the frontal and temporal lobes. Patients with Alzheimer disease additionally showed parietal lobe and sensorimotor region softening (p = 0.039 and p = 0.018, respectively). Patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus showed stiffening of the parietal, occipital, and sensorimotor regions (p = 0.007, p > 0.001, and p > 0.0001, respectively). Patients with dementia with Lewy bodies did not show significant stiffness changes in any of the regions. CONCLUSION. Quantitative MRE of changes in brain viscoelastic structure shows unique regional brain stiffness patterns between common dementia subtypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-408
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • Brain stiffness
  • Dementia
  • MR elastography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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