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Aging and disease    2017, Vol. 8 Issue (6) : 899-909     DOI: 10.14336/AD.2017.0502
Original Article |
Age-Related Gray and White Matter Changes in Normal Adult Brains
Farokhian Farnaz1,2, Yang Chunlan1, Beheshti Iman2,*, Matsuda Hiroshi2, Wu Shuicai1,*
1College of Life Science and Bioengineering, Beijing University of Technology, Beijing, 100022, China
2Integrative Brain Imaging Center, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Kodaira, Tokyo Japan
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Normal aging is associated with both structural changes in many brain regions and functional declines in several cognitive domains with advancing age. Advanced neuroimaging techniques enable explorative analyses of structural alterations that can be used as assessments of such age-related changes. Here we used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to investigate regional and global brain volume differences among four groups of healthy adults from the IXI Dataset: older females (OF, mean age 68.35 yrs; n=69), older males (OM, 68.43 yrs; n=66), young females (YF, 27.09 yrs; n=71), and young males (YM, 27.91 yrs; n=71), using 3D T1-weighted MRI data. At the global level, we investigated the influence of age and gender on brain volumes using a two-way analysis of variance. With respect to gender, we used the Pearson correlation to investigate global brain volume alterations due to age in the older and young groups. At the regional level, we used a flexible factorial statistical test to compare the means of gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) volume alterations among the four groups. We observed different patterns in both the global and regional GM and WM alterations in the young and older groups with respect to gender. At the global level, we observed significant influences of age and gender on global brain volumes. At the regional level, the older subjects showed a widespread reduction in GM volume in regions of the frontal, insular, and cingulate cortices compared to the young subjects in both genders. Compared to the young subjects, the older subjects showed a widespread WM decline prominently in the thalamic radiations, in addition to increased WM in pericentral and occipital areas. Knowledge of these observed brain volume differences and changes may contribute to the elucidation of mechanisms underlying aging as well as age-related brain atrophy and disease.

Keywords aging      gender      MRI      voxel-based morphometry      brain volume     
Corresponding Authors: Beheshti Iman,Wu Shuicai   
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These authors equally contribute this work

Issue Date: 01 December 2017
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Farokhian Farnaz
Yang Chunlan
Beheshti Iman
Matsuda Hiroshi
Wu Shuicai
Cite this article:   
Farokhian Farnaz,Yang Chunlan,Beheshti Iman, et al. Age-Related Gray and White Matter Changes in Normal Adult Brains[J]. Aging and disease, 2017, 8(6): 899-909.
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Figure 1.  The general structure of proposed analysis procedure.
Older females
Older males
Young females
Young males
Age (yrs)
Table 1  The characteristics of the four groups of healthy subjects from the IXI Dataset
Figure 2.  The box plots for the OF, YF, OM, and YM subjects

The box plots for the OF, YF, OM, and YM subjects' (A) normalized GM, (B) normalized WM and (C) total intracranial volume (TIV). Significance was determined by an ANOVA followed by Tukey's post-hoc test. *p<0.05, **p<0.001.

Older females
Young females
Older males
Young males
GM (ml)562.59±50.08689.66±59.77614.28±60.11739.58±56.97
WM (ml)476.56±44.65499.70±52.09533.98±57.17568.6425±53.71
TIV (ml)1425.90±108.931473.12±124.581602.91±132.941624.20±116.68
Table 2  The range of global volume measurements for the young and older female and male subjects
Figure 3.  Plots of brain volumes vs. age in the young and older groups with respect to gender

(A) normalized GMV in the young subjects, (B) normalized GMV in the older subjects, (C) normalized WMV in the young subjects, (D) normalized WMV in the older subjects, (E) TIV in the young subjects, and (F) TIV in the older subjects.

Figure 4.  Group comparisons of GM volume alterations by VBM using SPM12 and DARTEL (FWE corrected at <i>p</i><0.05 with extend threshold K=100)

(A) F-test results for the four groups, (B) OF vs. YF, and (C) OM vs. YM. Warm and cool color scales show negative and positive correlations with age and volume, respectively

Figure 5.  Group comparisons of WM volume alterations by VBM using SPM12 and DARTEL (FWE corrected at <i>p</i><0.05 with extend threshold K=100)

(A) F-test results of the four groups, (B) OF vs. YF, and (C) OM vs. YM. Warm and cool color scales show negative and positive correlations with age and volume, respectively.

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