BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The neostriatum is known to be affected in HD. In this work, our aim was to determine whether microstructural and volumetric alterations occur in the neostriatum of presymptomatic HD gene carriers and in patients with early-stage HD. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We studied a group of 15 presymptomatic gene carriers who were far from the estimated symptom onset (16% probability of developing the disease within 5 years), a group of 9 patients with early symptomatic HD, and 2 groups of age-matched controls. Volumetric MR imaging and DWIs were acquired, and statistical analyses were performed on the volumes of the caudate nucleus and putamen and on the corresponding MD measurements. RESULTS: Neostriatal volumes were significantly smaller in both presymptomatic HD gene carriers and symptomatic patients with respect to controls. However, whereas the diffusivity in the caudate nucleus was increased in the symptomatic patients, it was decreased in the presymptomatic gene carriers. CONCLUSIONS: Altered diffusivity and reduced volume of the caudate nucleus in presymptomatic HD gene carriers indicate that the neostriatum is affected well before the onset of symptoms. The observed initial decrease and subsequent increase of MD might be related to the combined effect of increased oligodendroglial population, putatively a developmental abnormality, and incipient neurodegeneration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging