Background: Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease that results from the expansion of a trinucleotide (CAG) repeat on chromosome 4. Progressive degeneration of the striatum is the pathologic hallmark of the disease. Little is known about the regional selectivity of the neurodegeneration and its relationship to the genetic expansion.
Methods: The authors used high-resolution MRI to determine the relationship between the genetic expansion and the degree of striatal degeneration. Morphometric analyses of the striatum from high-resolution MR images from 27 subjects with HD were compared with those of 24 healthy control subjects.
Results and conclusions: Striatal volumes were reduced in subjects with HD as compared with control subjects, in agreement with previously published reports. Left-sided volumes were smaller than right-sided volumes in subjects with HD; in healthy subjects, right-sided volumes were smaller. Finally, volume loss was significantly correlated with CAG repeat number. These results have potential implications for the design and assessment of therapeutic agents in the future.