Reduced glucose uptake and Aβ in brain regions with hyperintensities in connected white matter
Interstitial concentration of amyloid beta (Aß) is positively related to synaptic activity in animal experiments. In humans, Aß deposition in Alzheimer's disease overlaps with cortical regions highly active earlier in life. White matter lesions (WML) disrupt connections between gray matter (GM) regions which in turn changes their activation patterns. Here, we tested if WML are related to Aß accumulation (measured with PiB-PET) and glucose uptake (measured with FDG-PET) in connected GM. WML masks from 72 cognitively normal (age 61.7 ± 9.6 years, 71% women) individuals were obtained from T2-FLAIR. MRI and PET images were normalized into common space, segmented and parcellated into gray matter (GM) regions. The effects of WML on connected GM regions were assessed using the Change in Connectivity (ChaCo) score. Defined for each GM region, ChaCo is the percentage of WM tracts connecting to that region that pass through the WML mask. The regional relationship between ChaCo, glucose uptake and Aß was explored via linear regression. Subcortical regions of the bilateral caudate, putamen, calcarine, insula, thalamus and anterior cingulum had WM connections with the most lesions, followed by frontal, occipital, temporal, parietal and cerebellar regions. Regional analysis revealed that GM with more lesions in connecting WM and thus impaired connectivity had lower FDG-PET (r = 0.20, p<0.05 corrected) and lower PiB uptake (r = 0.28, p<0.05 corrected). Regional regression also revealed that both ChaCo (β = 0.045) and FDG-PET (β = 0.089) were significant predictors of PiB. In conclusion, brain regions with more lesions in connecting WM had lower glucose metabolism and lower Aß deposition.