Advances in imaging of brain abnormalities in neuromuscular disease

Corrado Angelini, Elena Pinzan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Brain atrophy, white matter abnormalities, and ventricular enlargement have been described in different neuromuscular diseases (NMDs). We aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of the substantial advancement of brain imaging in neuromuscular diseases by consulting the main libraries (Pubmed, Scopus and Google Scholar) including the more common forms of muscular dystrophies such as dystrophinopathies, dystroglycanopathies, myotonic dystrophies, facioscapulohumeral dystrophy, limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, congenital myotonia, and congenital myopathies. A consistent, widespread cortical and subcortical involvement of grey and white matter was found. Abnormalities in the functional connectivity in brain networks and metabolic alterations were observed with positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Pathological brain changes with cognitive dysfunction seemed to be frequently associated in NMDs. In particular, in congenital muscular dystrophies (CMDs), skeletal muscular weakness, severe hypotonia, WM abnormalities, ventricular dilatation and abnormalities in cerebral gyration were observed. In dystroglycanopathy 2I subtype (LGMD2I), adult patients showed subcortical atrophy and a WM periventricular involvement, moderate ventriculomegaly, and enlargement of subarachnoid spaces. Correlations with clinical features have been observed with brain imaging characteristics and alterations were prominent in congenital or childhood onset cases. In myotonic dystrophy type 2 (DM2) symptoms seem to be less severe than in type 1 (DM1). In Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies (DMD, BMD) cortical atrophy is associated with minimal ventricular dilatation and WM abnormalities. Late-onset glycogenosis type II (GSD II) or Pompe infantile forms are characterized by delayed myelination. Only in a few cases of oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) central nervous system involvement has been described and associated with executive functions impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1756286419845567
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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