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Section: New Results

Spatiotemporal Propagation of the Cortical Atrophy: Population and Individual Patterns

Participants : Igor Koval, Jean-Baptiste Schiratti, Alexandre Routier, Michael Bacci, Olivier Colliot, Stéphanie Allassonnière, Stanley Durrleman.

Repeated failures in clinical trials for Alzheimer's disease (AD) have raised a strong interest for the prodromal phase of the disease. A better understanding of the brain alterations during this early phase is crucial to diagnose patients sooner, to estimate an accurate disease stage, and to give a reliable prognosis. According to recent evidence, structural alterations in the brain are likely to be sensitive markers of the disease progression. Neuronal loss translates in specific spatiotemporal patterns of cortical atrophy, starting in the enthorinal cortex and spreading over other cortical regions according to specific propagation pathways. We developed a digital model of the cortical atrophy in the left hemisphere from prodromal to diseased phases, which is built on the temporal alignment and combination of several short-term observation data to reconstruct the long-term history of the disease. The model not only provides a description of the spatiotemporal patterns of cortical atrophy at the group level but also shows the variability of these patterns at the individual level in terms of difference in propagation pathways, speed of propagation, and age at propagation onset. Longitudinal MRI datasets of patients with mild cognitive impairments who converted to AD are used to reconstruct the cortical atrophy propagation across all disease stages. Each observation is considered as a signal spatially distributed on a network, such as the cortical mesh, each cortex location being associated to a node. We consider how the temporal profile of the signal varies across the network nodes. We introduce a statistical mixed-effect model to describe the evolution of the cortex alterations. To ensure a spatiotemporal smooth propagation of the alterations, we introduce a constrain on the propagation signal in the model such that neighboring nodes have similar profiles of the signal changes. Our generative model enables the reconstruction of personalized patterns of the neurodegenerative spread, providing a way to estimate disease progression stages and predict the age at which the disease will be diagnosed. The model shows that, for instance, APOE carriers have a significantly higher pace of cortical atrophy but not earlier atrophy onset.

More details in [19].