Magnetic resonance elastography of frontotemporal dementia

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To investigate the feasibility of utilizing brain stiffness as a potential biomarker for behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) patients. Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is a noninvasive technique for evaluating the mechanical properties of brain tissue in vivo. MRE has demonstrated decreased brain stiffness in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Materials and Methods:

We examined five male subjects with bvFTD and nine cognitively normal age-matched male controls (NC) with brain 3T MRE. Stiffness was calculated in nine regions of interest (ROIs): whole brain (entire cerebrum excluding cerebellum), frontal lobes, occipital lobes, parietal lobes, temporal lobes, deep gray matter / white matter (GM/WM; insula, deep gray nuclei and white matter tracts), cerebellum, sensorimotor cortex (pre- and postcentral gyri), and a composite region labeled FT (frontal and temporal lobes excluding the pre- and postcentral gyri).


Significantly lower stiffness values were observed in the whole brain (P = 0.007), frontal lobe (P = 0.001), and temporal lobes (P = 0.005) of bvFTD patients compared to NC. No significant stiffness differences were observed in any other ROIs of bvFTD patients compared to NC (P > 0.05). These results demonstrate that statistically significant brain softening occurs in the frontal and temporal lobes of bvFTD patients, which corresponds to the expected pathophysiology of bvFTD.


Future studies evaluating the feasibility of brain MRE for early disease detection and monitoring disease progression could shed new insights into understanding the mechanisms involved in bvFTD. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2016;43:474–478.

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