Volume 13, Issue 11 p. 1261-1269
Featured Article

Tau and amyloid β proteins distinctively associate to functional network changes in the aging brain

Jorge Sepulcre

Corresponding Author

Jorge Sepulcre

Gordon Center for Medical Imaging, Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA, USA

Corresponding author. Tel.: 617-726-2899; Fax: 617-496-9385.

E-mail address: [email protected]

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Mert R. Sabuncu

Mert R. Sabuncu

Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA, USA

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Quanzheng Li

Quanzheng Li

Gordon Center for Medical Imaging, Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

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Georges El Fakhri

Georges El Fakhri

Gordon Center for Medical Imaging, Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

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Reisa Sperling

Reisa Sperling

Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA, USA

Department of Neurology, Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

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Keith A. Johnson

Keith A. Johnson

Gordon Center for Medical Imaging, Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Department of Neurology, Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

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First published: 30 March 2017
Citations: 61

Abstract

Introduction

Misfolded tau and amyloid β (Aβ) proteins progressively accumulate in the human brain, causing altered neuronal function and neurodegeneration. This study sought to investigate whether the wide spectrum of functional reorganization in aging brains of cognitively normal individuals relates to specific pathological patterns of tau and Aβ deposits.

Methods

We used functional connectivity neuroimaging and in vivo tau and Aβ positron emission tomography scans to study cortical spatial relationships between imaging modalities.

Results

We found that a negative association between tau and functional connectivity combined with a positive association between Aβ and functional connectivity is the most frequent cortical pattern among elderly subjects. Moreover, we found specific brain areas that interrelate hypoconnectivity and hyperconnectivity regions.

Discussion

Our findings have critical implications to understanding how the two main elements of Alzheimer's disease–related pathology affect the aging brain and how they cause alterations in large-scale neuronal circuits.