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R2* mapping for brain iron: associations with cognition in normal aging

Neurobiol Aging. 2014 Sep 19. pii: S0197-4580(14)00618-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.09.013. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Ghadery C, Pirpamer L, Hofer E, Langkammer C, Petrovic K, Loitfelder M, Schwingenschuh P, Seiler S, Duering M, Jouvent E, Schmidt H, Fazekas F, Mangin JF, Chabriat H, Dichgans M, Ropele S, Schmidt R.
Publication Date: 2014

Abstract

Brain iron accumulates during aging and has been associated with neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease. Magnetic resonance (MR)-based R2* mapping enables the in vivo detection of iron content in brain tissue. We investigated if during normal brain aging iron load relates to cognitive impairment in region-specific patterns in a community-dwelling cohort of 336 healthy, middle aged, and older adults from the Austrian Stroke Prevention Family Study. MR imaging and R2* mapping in the basal ganglia and neocortex were done at 3T. Comprehensive neuropsychological testing assessed memory, executive function, and psychomotor speed. We found the highest iron concentration in the globus pallidus, and pallidal and putaminal iron was significantly and inversely associated with cognitive performance in all cognitive domains, except memory. These associations were iron load dependent. Vascular brain lesions and brain volume did not mediate the relationship between iron and cognitive performance. We conclude that higher R2*-determined iron in the basal ganglia correlates with cognitive impairment during brain aging independent of concomitant brain abnormalities. The prognostic significance of this finding needs to be determined.

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