White matter and cerebellar involvement in alternating hemiplegia of childhood

Mariasavina Severino, Livia Pisciotta, Domenico Tortora, Benedetta Toselli, Michela Stagnaro, Ramona Cordani, Giovanni Morana, Anna Zicca, Svetlana Kotzeva, Clelia Zanaboni, Giovanni Montobbio, Andrea Rossi, Elisa De Grandis, Maria Teresa Bassi, Claudio Zucca, the IBAHC Consortium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To determine whether brain volumetric and white matter microstructural changes are present and correlate with neurological impairment in subjects with alternating hemiplegia of childhood (AHC). Methods: In this prospective single-center study, 12 AHC subjects (mean age 22.9 years) and 24 controls were studied with 3DT1-weighted MR imaging and high angular resolution diffusion imaging at 3T. Data obtained with voxel-based morphometry and tract-based spatial statistics were correlated with motor impairment using the International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale (ICARS) and Movement and Disability sub-scales of Burke-Fahn-Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale (BFMMS and BFMDS). Results: Compared to healthy controls, AHC subjects showed lower total brain volume (P < 0.001) and white matter volume (P = 0.002), with reduced clusters of white matter in frontal and parietal regions (P < 0.001). No significant regional differences were found in cortical or subcortical grey matter volumes. Lower cerebellar subvolumes correlated with worse ataxic symptoms and global motor impairment in AHC group (P < 0.001). Increased mean and radial diffusivity values were found in the corpus callosum, corticospinal tracts, superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculi, subcortical frontotemporal white matter, internal and external capsules, and optic radiations (P < 0.001). These diffusion scalar changes correlated with higher ICARS and BFMDS scores (P < 0.001). Interpretation: AHC subjects showed prevalent white matter involvement, with reduced volume in several cerebral and cerebellar regions associated with widespread microstructural changes reflecting secondary myelin injury rather than axonal loss. Conversely, no specific pattern of grey matter atrophy emerged. Lower cerebellar volumes, correlating with severity of neurological manifestations, seems related to disrupted developmental rather than neurodegenerative processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1300-1311
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2020


  • Alternating hemiplegia of childhood
  • Brain MRI
  • Tract-based spatial statistics
  • Voxel-based morphometry
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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