Diffusion-weighted brain imaging study of patients with clinical diagnosis of corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy and Parkinson's disease

Giovanni Rizzo, Paolo Martinelli, David Manners, Cesa Scaglione, Caterina Tonon, Pietro Cortelli, Emil Malucelli, Sabina Capellari, Claudia Testa, Piero Parchi, Pasquale Montagna, Bruno Barbiroli, Raffaele Lodi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) are two neurodegenerative disorders within the category of tauopathies, which must be considered in differential diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Although specific clinical and neuroradiological features help to guide the clinician to a likely diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, CBD or PSP, differential diagnosis remains difficult. The aim of our study was to analyse apparent diffusion coefficient (ADCave) maps from patients with clinical diagnosis of CBD (corticobasal syndrome, CBS), classical phenotype of PSP (Richardson's syndrome, RS) and Parkinson's disease (PD) in order to identify objective markers to discriminate between these groups. Thirteen Parkinson's disease patients, 10 RS patients, 7 CBS patients and 9 healthy volunteers were recruited and studied in a 1.5 T MR scanner. Axial diffusion-weighted images were obtained and the ADCave map was generated. Regions of interest (ROIs) included mesencephalon, corpus callosum and left and right superior cerebellar peduncle (SCP), thalamus, caudate, putamen, pallidus, posterior limb of internal capsule, frontal and parietal white matter. Histograms of ADCave were generated for all voxels in left and right cerebral hemispheres and in left and right deep grey matter regions separately, and the 50th percentile values (medians) were determined. The ratio of the smaller to the larger median value (symmetry ratio) was calculated for left and right hemispheres and for left and right deep grey matter regions (1 = perfect symmetry). Putaminal ADC ave values in CBS and RS were significantly greater than those in Parkinson's disease and healthy volunteers, but could not distinguish CBS from RS patients. In CBS patients, the values of the medians of cerebral hemispheres histograms were significantly higher than those in RS, Parkinson's disease and healthy volunteers, while the hemispheric symmetry ratio in CBS (0.968, range 0.952-0.976) was markedly reduced compared with RS (0.993, range 0.992-0.994), Parkinson's disease (0.991, range 0.988-0.993) and healthy controls (0.990, range 0.988-0.993). The hemispheric symmetry ratio differentiated CBS patients from RS and Parkinson's disease patients with a sensitivity and specificity of 100%. In RS patients, the ADCave values of the SCPs were significantly greater than those in Parkinson's disease and healthy volunteers. Our findings confirm that putaminal ADCave values evaluation provides a good discrimination between Parkinson's disease and atypical parkinsonisms, including RS and CBS. Furthermore, diffusion-weighted imaging, by detecting the brain microstructural correlates of the typical asymmetric signs and symptoms in CBS and the SCP involvement in RS, was shown to aid characterization and differentiation of atypical parkinsonism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2690-2700
Number of pages11
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008



  • Corticobasal degeneration
  • Diffusion imaging
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy
  • Richardson's syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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