Multifocal alterations of white matter accompany the transition from normal cognition to dementia in Parkinson's disease patients

Maria Chondrogiorgi, Loukas G Astrakas, Anastasia K Zikou, Luca Weis, Vassilios G Xydis, Angelo Antonini, Maria I Argyropoulou, Spiridon Konitsiotis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the pattern of white matter (WM) changes associated with Parkinson's disease (PD)-related cognitive impairment by using fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD) and radial diffusivity (RD) measures. Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) was performed in 21 PD-patients with dementia (PDD) and in an age-matched control group including 40 PD-patients without dementia (PD-CTRL). The Parkinson's disease-Cognitive Rating Scale (PD-CRS) was used for patients' neuropsychological assessment. Local microstructural WM differences associated with the presence of cognitive impairment were tested using tract-based spatial statistics analysis. Multiple regression models investigated the association of DTI indices with total PD-CRS score, PD-CRS raw items and other clinical measures across the whole study sample. Significant FA decreases were found in PDD compared to PD-CTRL patients mainly in the body of corpus callosum, corona radiata and cingulum. Lower PD-CRS score was significantly associated with decreased FA, MD and AD values in multiple WM tracts primarily located in prefrontal and limbic areas as well as across the corpus callosum. Lower performance in specific PD-CRS raw items was also associated with FA decreases in major WM tracts. The results suggest that multifocal microstructural changes of WM accompany the transition from normal to demented cognitive state in PD-patients. The corpus callosum, the corona radiata and the cingulum are among the regions mostly affected during this course. A progressive axonal degeneration is proposed as a key underlying mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-240
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Aged
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction/diagnostic imaging
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia/diagnostic imaging
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging/methods
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted/methods
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parkinson Disease/diagnostic imaging
  • White Matter/diagnostic imaging


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