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Structural Brain Alterations in Motor Subtypes of Parkinson's Disease: Evidence from Probabilistic Tractography and Shape Analysis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Michael FirbankORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:The postural instability and gait disorder (PIGD) and tremor dominant (TD) subtypes of Parkinson's disease (PD) show different patterns of alterations in functional connectivity (FC) between specific brain regions. This study aimed to investigate the relation between symptomatic heterogeneity in PD and structural alterations underlying these FC changes.METHODS:68 PD patients classified as PIGD (n = 41) or TD (n = 19) and 19 age-matched controls underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Diffusion-weighted images were used to assess fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) at the whole-brain level using tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS). In addition, structural connectivity was assessed between regions that previously showed altered FC using probabilistic tractography. Anatomical images were used to determine shape and volume of the putamen, caudate and pallidum.RESULTS:TBSS revealed widespread FA reductions in PIGD compared to controls involving the superior longitudinal fasciculi and corpus callosum. No such differences were found in TD. Both PD subgroups had increased MD compared to controls in tracts connecting the left caudate with the bilateral ventral putamen. TD patients additionally showed increased MD compared to PIGD and controls in tracts connecting the right inferior parietal lobule with the right premotor and primary motor cortex, which previously showed altered FC. We also found grey matter atrophy in the rostrodorsal head of the caudate in PIGD compared to controls.CONCLUSION:Microstructural changes in white matter tracts, particularly in those connecting striatal sub-areas, partly underlie FC alterations in PD subtypes. Caudate shape alterations further implicate the striatum in PIGD pathophysiology.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vervoort G, Leunissen I, Firbank M, Heremans E, Nackaerts E, Vandenberghe W, Nieuwboer A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLOS One

Year: 2016

Volume: 11

Pages: e0157743

Online publication date: 17/06/2016

Acceptance date: 05/06/2016

Date deposited: 03/08/2016

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157743

PubMed id: 27314952


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