DOI: 10.1002/alz.081802 ISSN: 1552-5260

Altered Resting‐state fMRI BOLD Signal Fluctuations in the Spectrum of Alzheimer’s Dementia and in Patients with White Matter Hyperintensities

Niklas Behrenbruch, Enise I Incesoy, Jose Bernal, Inga Menze, Niklas Vockert, Luca Kleineidam, Katharina Buerger, Steffen Wolfsgruber, Annika Spottke, Klaus Fließbach, Christoph Laske, Robert Perneczky, Oliver Peters, Josef Priller, Anja Schneider, Michael T. Heneka, Michael Wagner, Stefan Teipel, Jens Wiltfang, Oliver Speck, Valentina Perosa, Renat Yakupov, Frank Jessen, Emrah Düzel, Hendrik Mattern, Stefanie Schreiber, Gabriel Ziegler, Anne Maass
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology



Altered fluctuations in blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal during resting‐state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs‐fMRI) have been considered indicative of decreased cerebrovascular health. Previous studies reported changes in BOLD fluctuations associated with Alzheimer’s dementia (AD) and white matter hyperintensities (WMH). However, to date, there has been no large‐scale study involving patients with AD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), subjective cognitive decline (SCD), and control subjects (CON) that has explored local AD‐ and WMH‐related effects in BOLD fluctuations.


We calculated the voxel‐based coefficient of variation (CV: standard deviation divided by the mean) and the relative CV (rCV: CV divided by the mean CV of the whole‐brain) of the rs‐fMRI BOLD signal in the large multicentric DZNE DELCODE cohort. After spatial preprocessing, regression of movement parameters, movement spikes, and scanner drift, low‐pass filtering and exclusion of subjects with high motion, CV and rCV maps were obtained and compared with respect to (A) clinical diagnosis (AD: n = 79; MCI: n = 113; SCD: n = 314; CON: n = 192) and cerebrospinal fluid Aß42/40 (AD: n = 41; MCI: n = 64; SCD: n = 139; CON: n = 77); and (B) effects of vascular‐related lesions, here WMH.


The CV and rCV of the precuneus and middle cingulum indicated increasingly reduced BOLD fluctuation across the clinical groups towards AD. Interestingly, we observed increases in rCV in the basal ganglia and frontal white matter in AD compared with CON. Of note, lower CSF Aß42/40 (more pathological) was associated to reduced CV and rCV in the precuneus and with lower rCV in the right angular gyrus. Subjects with higher WMH volume showed widespread reductions of CV in white matter near the left angular gyrus and reduced rCV in large portions of white matter and subcortical gray matter.


The AD spectrum exhibits altered BOLD fluctuations that are at least partially tied to actual amyloid differences. Larger WMH are associated with reduced BOLD signal fluctuations consistent with widespread white matter pathology ‐ beyond the effects of diagnosis. We argue that rCV is a useful complement to CV to detect these changes that might reflect cerebrovascular impairment.

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