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Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopic Analyses of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases

Author: Hui Mao, PhD

Similar to the concept we use to explore the molecular structure and functions in chemistry, we are specifically interested in investigating the structure and function relationship of the brain, especially the brain affected by the degenerative diseases.  The projects in this area focus on using various anatomic and functional MRI methods to analyze the brain structures and their changes in relation to the disease development.  We have investigated the influences of vascular abnormalities and brain white matter integrity in patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.  Furthermore, we have developed a NMR/MRS based metabolomics approach in which we attempt to discover the disease specific metabolite markers using ex vivo high resolution metabolite characterizations of the diseased brain tissues with a hope to identify a clinical applicable marker for in vivo diagnosis and treatment monitoring with MRS.  Our work in this area is supported by a R21 grant from National Institute of Aging (NIA) as well as exploratory grant from NIH funded Emory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC, P50).       

Fig 1

Quantitative measurements of fractional anisotropy (FA) and radial diffusivity (DR) of the AD patients with various degrees of white matter hyperintensity showed the reduction of the white matter integrity in the specific regions (colored in orange-red).  Mode details can be found in Wang L, et al:  Neuroradiology. 2011;53(5):373-81.

Fig 2

A strategy for NMR/MAS metabolomics based discovery of metabolite markers for in vivo MRS detection (NIH/NIA (5R21AG032104-02)           

Project Team

Hui Mao, PhD (PI), Liya Wang, MD, Dandan Chen (PhD), Ruya Zhao and Yating Luo.