In vitro MR microscopy of the hippocampus in Alzheimer's disease.
We used MR microscopy at 7 tesla to identify the anatomy of the degenerating hippocampus in Alzheimer's disease (AD), which we then correlated with the histopathologic findings in the same specimens. The specimens studied were resected postmortem from 13 patients with confirmed AD and from nine age-matched controls. We imaged the specimens in the coronal plane using either three-dimensional Fourier encoding or single-slice Carr, Purcell, Meiboom, Gill (CPMG) spin echo sequences. On all specimens imaged with the CPMG pulse sequence, we calculated the T2 relaxation times for subfields within the hippocampus. Histologic sections were taken from each specimen and compared with the corresponding MR image. Using histologic boundaries, we quantified the number of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in each hippocampal subfield. We measured the area, morphometric characteristics, and width of identifiable signal variant regions on each image and compared these measurements with the histopathologic findings. The mean cross-sectional area of the hippocampus in AD was decreased by 31% compared with the control group. This atrophy was highly correlated with tangle counts within the hippocampus, but not with plaque counts. The width of the gray matter in hippocampal area CA1, as identified by MR, correlated with the total area of the hippocampus. An age-related decrease in the size of a low-signal region that corresponds histologically to input projections comprising part of the perforant pathway was identified. Measurements of the T2 relaxation times of hippocampal subfields showed little regional variability and were not accurate indicators of disease presence or severity (p > 0.05).
Huesgen, CT; Burger, PC; Crain, BJ; Johnson, GA
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