Locus coeruleus MRI contrast is reduced in Alzheimer's disease dementia and correlates with CSF Aβ levels

Nov. 24, 2021


This study aimed to assess how interindividual differences in locus coeruleus (LC) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast relate to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease (AD).


LC MRI contrast was quantified in 73 individuals from the DZNE Longitudinal Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Study (DELCODE) study comprising 25 healthy elderly adults and 21 individuals with subjective cognitive decline, 16 with mild cognitive impairment, and 11 participants with AD dementia using 3D T1-weighted fast low-angle shot (FLASH) imaging (0.75 mm isotropic resolution). Bootstrapped Pearson's correlations between LC contrast, CSF amyloid, and tau were performed in 44 individuals with CSF biomarker status.


A significant regional decrease in LC MRI contrast was observed in patients with AD dementia but not mild cognitive impairment and subjective cognitive decline compared with healthy controls. A negative association between LC MRI contrast and levels of CSF amyloid but not with CSF tau was found.


These results provide first evidence for a direct association between LC MRI contrast using in vivo T1-weighted FLASH imaging and AD pathology.

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