OBJECTIVE: The notion that cerebellar pathology may contribute to cognitive impairment in ALS, especially in patients with C9orf72 repeated expansion, has been inconsistently reported. This study aimed exploring the relationship between cerebellar involvement, cognitive impairment and C9orf72 repeated expansion of patients with ALS. METHODS: Quantitative in vivo assessment of cerebellar lobules has been investigated in 66 non-demented patients with ALS and 28 healthy controls (HCs). Pathologic C9orf72 repeated expansion was found in 13 patients. Mild cognitive and/or behavioral impairment was diagnosed in 22 C9orf72 negative ALS patients. Measures of cortical volume (CV) and cortical thickness (CT) of cerebellar lobules of all participants were used for Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to identify clusters of lobular measures highly correlated with each other. PCA outcomes were used for between group comparisons and correlation analyses with neuropsychological and clinical features. RESULTS: Disease severity measured with ALS functional rating scale and index of disease progression rate significantly correlated with CV reduction of the second PCA cluster loading CV measures of anterior lobules. In all patients, cognitive impairment, measured with verbal fluency, was related to CV reduction of the third cluster comprising posterior lobules. No specific cortical thinning or volume reduction of cerebellar clustering patterns could be detected in ALS subgroups. CONCLUSION: Our data show that specific patterns of subregional cerebellar involvement are associated with physical disability or cognitive impairment in ALS, in line with the topographic organization of the cerebellum. However, there was no specific correlation between cerebellar degeneration and cognitive syndromes or C9orf72 mutations.
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- cognitive impairment
- cortical thickness
- cortical volume