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Diffusional Kurtosis Imaging of White Matter Degeneration in Glaucoma.

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Nucci, Carlo 
Garaci, Francesco 
Altobelli, Simone 
Di Ciò, Francesco 


Glaucoma is an optic neuropathy characterized by death of retinal ganglion cells and loss of their axons, progressively leading to blindness. Recently, glaucoma has been conceptualized as a more diffuse neurodegenerative disorder involving the optic nerve and also the entire brain. Consistently, previous studies have used a variety of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques and described widespread changes in the grey and white matter of patients. Diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) provides additional information as compared with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and consistently provides higher sensitivity to early microstructural white matter modification. In this study, we employ DKI to evaluate differences among healthy controls and a mixed population of primary open angle glaucoma patients ranging from stage I to V according to Hodapp-Parrish-Anderson visual field impairment classification. To this end, a cohort of patients affected by primary open angle glaucoma (n = 23) and a group of healthy volunteers (n = 15) were prospectively enrolled and underwent an ophthalmological evaluation followed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using a 3T MR scanner. After estimating both DTI indices, whole-brain, voxel-wise statistical comparisons were performed in white matter using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS). We found widespread differences in several white matter tracts in patients with glaucoma relative to controls in several metrics (mean kurtosis, kurtosis anisotropy, radial kurtosis, and fractional anisotropy) which involved localization well beyond the visual pathways, and involved cognitive, motor, face recognition, and orientation functions amongst others. Our findings lend further support to a causal brain involvement in glaucoma and offer alternative explanations for a number of multidomain impairments often observed in glaucoma patients.



diffusion tensor imaging, diffusional kurtosis imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, primary open angle glaucoma

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J Clin Med

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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) (unknown)
Medical Research Council (MR/P01271X/1)