In this multiparametric, cross-sectional study, we aimed to investigate cognitive impairment and brain structural changes in patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA)-parkinsonian variant (MSA-p). Twenty-six MSA-p patients and 19 controls underwent clinical and neuropsychological evaluation and 1.5 T brain MRI scan. Cortical thickness measures and volumes of deep grey matter structures were obtained. A regression analysis correlated MRI metrics with clinical features in MSA-p patients. Almost 46% of MSA-p patients showed a mild cognitive impairment involving mainly attentive–executive and memory domains. Apathy and depression were found in half of MSA-p patients. MSA-p patients showed significant cortical thinning of fronto-temporal–parietal regions and atrophy of periaqueductal grey matter, left cerebellar hemisphere, left pallidum and bilateral putamen, compared to controls. Cortical thinning in temporal regions correlated with global cognitive status and memory impairment. Grey matter cerebellar atrophy correlated with motor deficits. MSA-p patients showed a multidomain cognitive impairment with a prominent cortical damage in anterior more than posterior brain regions and grey matter volume reduction in subcortical structures. Cortical and subcortical structural changes might lead to cognitive dysfunction in MSA-p.
- Cortical thickness
- Grey matter damage
- Multiple system atrophy-parkinsonian variant
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology