BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Alzheimer disease (AD) is primarily associated with accumulations of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in gray matter, however, it is now acknowledged that neuroinflammation, particularly in white matter (WM), significantly contributes to the development and progression of AD. This study aims to investigate WM neuroinflammation in the continuum of AD and its association with AD pathologies and cognition using diffusion-based neuroinflammation imaging (NII). METHODS: This is a cross-sectional, single-center, retrospective evaluation conducted on an observational study of 310 older research participants who were enrolled in the Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center cohort. Hindered water ratio (HR), an index of WM neuroinflammation, was quantified by a noninvasive diffusion MRI method, NII. The alterations of NII-HR were investigated at different AD stages, classified based on CSF concentrations of β-amyloid (Aβ) 42/Aβ40 for amyloid and phosphorylated tau181 (p-tau181) for tau. On the voxel and regional levels, the relationship between NII-HR and CSF markers of amyloid, tau, and neuroinflammation were examined, as well as cognition. RESULTS: This cross-sectional study included 310 participants (mean age 67.1 [±9.1] years), with 52 percent being female. Subgroups included 120 individuals (38.7%) with CSF measures of soluble triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2, 80 participants (25.8%) with CSF measures of chitinase-3-like protein 1, and 110 individuals (35.5%) with longitudinal cognitive measures. The study found that cognitively normal individuals with positive CSF Aβ42/Aβ40 and p-tau181 had higher HR than healthy controls and those with positive CSF Aβ42/Aβ40 but negative p-tau181. WM tracts with elevated NII-HR in individuals with positive CSF Aβ42/Aβ40 and p-tau181 were primarily located in the posterior brain regions while those with elevated NII-HR in individuals with positive CSF Aβ42/Aβ40 and p-tau181 connected the posterior and anterior brain regions. A significant negative correlation between NII-HR and CSF Aβ42/Aβ40 was found in individuals with positive CSF Aβ42/Aβ40. Baseline NII-HR correlated with baseline cognitive composite score and predicted longitudinal cognitive decline. DISCUSSION: Those findings suggest that WM neuroinflammation undergoes alterations before the onset of AD clinical symptoms and that it interacts with amyloidosis. This highlights the potential value of noninvasive monitoring of WM neuroinflammation in AD progression and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e208013
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024


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