Interactions Between Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease on Structural Brain Networks

and The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Normative aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) propagation alter anatomical connections among brain parcels. However, the interaction between the trajectories of age- and AD-linked alterations in the topology of the structural brain network is not well understood. In this study, diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) datasets of 139 subjects from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database were used to document their structural brain networks. The 139 participants consist of 45 normal controls (NCs), 37 with early mild cognitive impairment (EMCI), 27 with late mild cognitive impairment (LMCI), and 30 AD patients. All subjects were further divided into three subgroups based on their age (56–65, 66–75, and 71–85 years). After the structural connectivity networks were built using anatomically-constrained deterministic tractography, their global and nodal topological properties were estimated, including network efficiency, characteristic path length, transitivity, modularity coefficient, clustering coefficient, and betweenness. Statistical analyses were then performed on these metrics using linear regression, and one- and two-way ANOVA testing to examine group differences and interactions between aging and AD propagation. No significant interactions were found between aging and AD propagation in the global topological metrics (network efficiency, characteristic path length, transitivity, and modularity coefficient). However, nodal metrics (clustering coefficient and betweenness centrality) of some cortical parcels exhibited significant interactions between aging and AD propagation, with affected parcels including left superior temporal, right pars triangularis, and right precentral. The results collectively confirm the age-related deterioration of structural networks in MCI and AD patients, providing novel insight into the cross effects of aging and AD disorder on brain structural networks. Some early symptoms of AD may also be due to age-associated anatomic vulnerability interacting with early anatomic changes associated with AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number639795
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jun 10 2021


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • cognitive impairment
  • diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging
  • nerve fiber tracking
  • structural network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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