Evidence for more widespread cerebral pathology in early HD: an MRI-based morphometric analysis

Neurology. 2003 May 27;60(10):1615-20. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000065888.88988.6e.


Background: Most clinical symptoms of Huntington disease (HD) have been attributed to striatal degeneration, but extrastriatal degeneration may play an important role in the clinical symptoms because postmortem studies demonstrate that almost all brain structures atrophy.

Objective: To fully characterize the morphometric changes that occur in vivo in HD.

Methods: High-resolution 1.5 mm T1-weighted coronal scans were acquired from 18 individuals in early to mid-stages of HD and 18 healthy age-matched controls. Cortical and subcortical gray and white matter were segmented using a semiautomated intensity contour-mapping algorithm. General linear models for correlated data of the volumes of brain regions were used to compare groups, controlling for age, education, handedness, sex, and total brain volumes.

Results: Subjects with HD had significant volume reductions in almost all brain structures, including total cerebrum, total white matter, cerebral cortex, caudate, putamen, globus pallidus, amygdala, hippocampus, brainstem, and cerebellum.

Conclusions: Widespread degeneration occurs in early to mid-stages of HD, may explain some of the clinical heterogeneity, and may impact future clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Time Factors