Adults with Down syndrome (DS) are at high risk for developing Alzheimer's disease after the age of 40 years. To detect white matter (WM) changes in the brain linked to dementia, fractional anisotropy (FA) from diffusion tensor imaging was used. We hypothesized that adults with DS without dementia (DS n = 10), DS with dementia (DSAD n = 10) and age matched non-DS subjects (CTL n = 10) would show differential levels of FA and an association with scores from the Brief Praxis Test and the Severe Impairment Battery. WM integrity differences in DS compared with CTL were found predominantly in the frontal lobes. Across all DS adults, poorer Brief Praxis Test performance correlated with reduced FA in the corpus callosum as well as several association tracts, primarily within frontoparietal regions. Our results demonstrate significantly lower WM integrity in DS compared with controls, particularly in the frontal tracts. DS-related WM integrity reductions in a number of tracts were associated with poorer cognition. These preliminary results suggest that late myelinating frontal pathways may be vulnerable to aging in DS.

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Published in Neurobiology of Aging, v. 35, issue 7, p. 1562–1569.

Per the publisher Elsevier: "NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Neurobiology of Aging. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Neurobiology of Aging, v. 35, issue 7, (July 2014). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.01.137"

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