Normal aging, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are characterized by different degrees of decline in frontal lobe functions. We used (18)FDG-PET and statistical parametric mapping (SPM96) to compare relative subcorticofrontal metabolic impairment at rest in 21 healthy elderly subjects (HES), 20 PSP patients, and 6 FTD patients. When HES were compared to 22 healthy young subjects, widespread decrease in metabolism was observed in bilateral medial prefrontal areas including anterior cingulate cortices, in dorsolateral prefrontal areas, in left lateral premotor area, in Broca's area, and in left insula. In PSP compared to the 43 healthy subjects (HS), we observed subcorticofrontal metabolic impairment including both motor and cognitive neural networks. Impairment of functional connections between midbrain tegmentum and cerebellar, temporal and pallidal regions was demonstrated in PSP as compared to HS. When comparing FTD to HS, glucose uptake was primarily reduced in dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices and in frontopolar and anterior cingulate regions. There was also bilateral anterior temporal, right inferior parietal, and bilateral striatal hypometabolism. Finally, FTD showed more severe striatofrontal metabolic impairment than PSP, while mesencephalothalamic involvement was only observed in PSP. Our data suggest that subcorticofrontal metabolic impairment is distributed in distinct subcorticocortical networks in normal aging, PSP, and FTD. Subcorticofrontal dementia in PSP is related to hypometabolism in discrete frontal areas, which are probably disconnected from certain subcortical structures. The concept of subcortical dementia is reinforced by our data, which show disrupted functional connections between mesencephalon and cerebellar cortex, inferior and medial temporal regions, and pallidum.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.