DOI: 10.1002/alz.081739 ISSN: 1552-5260

Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers of amyloid and tau influence white matter neurite alterations in dementia with Lewy bodies: a NODDI study

Elijah Mak, Robert I. Reid, Scott A. Przybelski, Timothy G. Lesnick, Christopher G. Schwarz, Matthew L. Senjem, Sheelakumari Raghavan, Prashanthi Vemuri, Clifford R. Jack, Hoon‐Ki Min, Manoj K. Jain, Toji Miyagawa, Leah K. Forsberg, Julie A. Fields, Rodolfo Savica, Jonathan Graff‐Radford, David T. Jones, Hugo Botha, Erik K St Louis, David S. Knopman, Vijay K Ramanan, Neill R Graff‐Radford, Tanis J Ferman, Ronald C. Petersen, Val J. Lowe, Brad F. Boeve, John T O'Brien, Kejal Kantarci
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology



Co‐morbid Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology in the form of amyloid‐ß plaques and tau neurofibrillary tangles are frequently observed in people with probable dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Neurite Orientation Dispersion and Density Imaging (NODDI) is an emerging technique to characterize white matter (WM) tissue microstructure, although NODDI alterations and associations with AD biomarkers remain undefined in DLB. The objectives of this study are to compare NODDI and DTI parameters between DLB and controls and (ii) evaluate the pattern of DTI and NODDI changes associated with amyloid and tau deposition.


Consecutive patients within the DLB spectrum (n = 45), including probable DLB (n = 32) and probable Mild Cognitive Impairment with Lewy bodies (MCI‐LB) (n = 13) from the Mayo Clinic ADRC underwent multi‐shell diffusion MRI, [18F]‐Flortaucipir and [11C]‐PiB PET. A comparison group of 45 age‐ and gender‐matched clinically unimpaired controls (CU) was included. Voxelwise non‐parametric permutation models were used to determine pair‐wise group differences and assess the associations of AD biomarkers with fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), tissue‐weighted neurite density index (tNDI; NDI x (1 – Free water fraction)) and orientation dispersion index (ODI), controlling for age. Complementary analyses were performed using regions‐of‐interest (ROI) obtained from the JHU atlas.


Compared to CU, the DLB spectrum group exhibited widespread decreases in FA and tNDI and increases in MD and ODI, with the most pronounced effects in the cingulum bundles, uncinate, inferior and superior longitudinal fasciculi (Fig. 1). Greater [18F]‐Flortaucipir uptake was also associated with lower FA and tNDI, and higher MD and ODI in the DLB spectrum compared to CU, independently of age and [11C]‐PiB uptake (Fig. 2). In contrast, no associations were found between [11C]‐PiB uptake and any of the DTI or NODDI parameters. Complementary ROI analyses corroborated these findings.


Widespread loss of WM integrity was observed on DTI and NODDI in probable DLB and prodromal DLB. These findings were associated with greater cortical tau, but not with amyloid‐ß deposition. Although alpha‐synuclein pathology underlies the loss of WM integrity in DLB, amyloid‐independent tau pathology may also be an important influence on white matter integrity within the DLB spectrum.

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