Clinically Applicable Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Morphologic Measurements of Grey Matter Changes in the Human Brain.
(1) Purpose: Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI) measurements can be used to sensitively estimate brain morphological alterations and may support clinical diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases (ND). We aimed to establish a normative reference database for a clinical applicable quantitative MR morphologic measurement on neurodegenerative changes in patients; (2) Methods: Healthy subjects (HCs, n = 120) with an evenly distribution between 21 to 70 years and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients (n = 11, mean age = 52.45 ± 6.80 years), as an example of ND patients, underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations under routine diagnostic conditions. Regional cortical thickness (rCTh) in 68 regions of interest (ROIs) and subcortical grey matter volume (SGMV) in 14 ROIs were determined from all subjects by using Computational Anatomy Toolbox. Those derived from HCs were analyzed to determine age-related differences and subsequently used as reference to estimate ALS-related alterations; (3) Results: In HCs, the rCTh (in 49/68 regions) and the SGMV (in 9/14 regions) in elderly subjects were less than those in younger subjects and exhibited negative linear correlations to age (p < 0.0007 for rCTh and p < 0.004 for SGMV). In comparison to age- and sex-matched HCs, the ALS patients revealed significant decreases of rCTh in eight ROIs, majorly located in frontal and temporal lobes; (4) Conclusion: The present study proves an overall grey matter decline with normal ageing as reported previously. The provided reference may be used for detection of grey matter alterations in neurodegenerative diseases that are not apparent in standard MR scans, indicating the potential of using qMRI as an add-on diagnostic tool in a clinical setting.