Callosal Microstructural Abnormalities in Alzheimer’s Disease and Alcoholism: Same Phenotype, Different Mechanisms


Pitel AL, Chanraud S, Sullivan EV, Pfefferbaum A. Callosal microstructural abnormalities in Alzheimer’s disease and alcoholism: same phenotype, different mechanisms. Psychiatry Res. 2010 Oct 30;184(1):49-56. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.07.006. Epub 2010 Sep 15. PMID: 20832253; PMCID: PMC2949287.


Magnetic resonance (MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data were acquired in 13 Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients, 15 elderly alcoholics, and 32 elderly controls. Midsagittal area, length, dorsoventral height, fractional anisotropy (FA), and mean diffusivity (MD) of the total corpus callosum and volume of the lateral ventricles were measured; area, FA, and MD were also determined for the callosal genu, body, and splenium. On DTI, both patient groups had lower FA and higher MD than controls in all callosal regions. On MRI, both patient groups had smaller genu than controls; additional size deficits were present in the alcoholism group’s callosal body and the AD group’s splenium. The callosal arch was higher in the AD but not the alcoholic group compared with controls. The two patient groups had larger ventricles than controls, and the AD group had larger ventricles than the alcoholic group. Callosal area correlated with its height, and callosal FA and MD correlated with ventricular volume in AD, whereas callosal area correlated only with FA in alcoholics. In AD, the disruption of the callosal integrity, which was associated with distorted callosal shape, was related to ventricular dilation, which has been shown in twin studies to be under a multitude of genetic, polygenetic, and environmental influences. Conversely, in alcoholism, disruption of callosal microstructural integrity was related to shrinkage of the corpus callosum itself.

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