Tractography of the Corpus Callosum in Huntington's Disease

Owen Phillips, Cristina Sanchez-Castaneda, Francesca Elifani, Vittorio Maglione, Alba Di Pardo, Carlo Caltagirone, Ferdinando Squitieri, Umberto Sabatini, Margherita Di Paola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


White matter abnormalities have been shown in presymptomatic and symptomatic Huntington's disease (HD) subjects using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) methods. The largest white matter tract, the corpus callosum (CC), has been shown to be particularly vulnerable; however, little work has been done to investigate the regional specificity of tract abnormalities in the CC. Thus, this study examined the major callosal tracts by applying DTI-based tractography. Using TrackVis, a previously defined region of interest tractography method parcellating CC into seven major tracts based on target region was applied to 30 direction DTI data collected from 100 subjects: presymptomatic HD (Pre-HD) subjects (n = 25), HD patients (n = 25) and healthy control subjects (n = 50). Tractography results showed decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) and increased radial diffusivity (RD) across broad regions of the CC in Pre-HD subjects. Similar though more severe deficits were seen in HD patients. In Pre-HD and HD, callosal FA and RD were correlated with Disease Burden/CAG repeat length as well as motor (UHDRSI) and cognitive (URDRS2) assessments. These results add evidence that CC pathways are compromised prior to disease onset with possible demyelination occurring early in the disease and suggest that CAG repeat length is a contributing factor to connectivity deficits. Furthermore, disruption of these callosal pathways potentially contributes to the disturbances of motor and cognitive processing that characterize HD.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere73280
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 3 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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