The metabolic topography of normal aging

J. R. Moeller, T. Ishikawa, V. Dhawan, P. Spetsieris, F. Mandel, G. E. Alexander, C. Grady, P. Pietrini, D. Eidelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

231 Scopus citations


Normal aging is associated with the degeneration of specific neural systems. We used [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)/positron emission tomography (PET) and a statistical model of regional covariation to explore the metabolic topography of this process. We calculated global and regional metabolic rates for glucose (GMR and rCMR(glc)) in two groups of normal subjects studied independently on different tomographs: Group 1-130 normal subjects (62 men and 68 women; range 21-90 years); Group 2-20 normal subjects (10 men and 10 women; range 24-78 years). In each of the two groups, the Scaled Subprofile Model (SSM) was applied to rCMR(glc) data to identify specific age-related profiles. The validity of these profiles as aging markers was assessed by correlating the associated subject scores with chronological age in both normal populations. SSM analysis disclosed two significant topographic profiles associated with aging. The first topographic profile, extracted in an analysis of group 1 normals, was characterized by relative frontal hypometabolism associated with covariate metabolic increases in the parietooccipital association areas, basal ganglia, midbrain, and cerebellum. Subject scores for this profile correlated significantly with age in both normal groups (R2 = 0.48 and 0.33, p < 0.0001 for groups 1 and 2, respectively). Because of clinical similarities between normal motoric aging and parkinsonism, we explored the possibility of shared elements in the metabolic topography of both processes. We performed a combined group SSM analysis of the 20 group 2 normals and 22 age-matched Parkinson's disease patients, and identified another aging-related topographic profile. This profile was characterized by relative basal ganglia hypermetabolism associated with covariate decreases in frontal premotor cortex. Subject scores for this profile also correlated significantly with age in both normal groups (group 1: R2 = 0.30, p < 0.00001; group 2: R2 = 0.59, p < 0.01). Healthy aging is associated with reproducible topographic covariation profiles associated with specific neural systems. FDG/PET may provide a useful metabolic marker of the normal aging process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-398
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996


  • Aging, normal
  • FDG
  • Metabolic topography
  • PET
  • Scaled Subprofile Model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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