In vivo evidence of cerebellar atrophy and cerebral white matter loss in Huntington disease

Neurology. 2004 Sep 28;63(6):989-95. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000138434.68093.67.


Objective: To investigate the regional pattern of white matter and cerebellar changes, as well as subcortical and cortical changes, in Huntington disease (HD) using morphometric analyses of structural MRI.

Methods: Fifteen individuals with HD and 22 controls were studied; groups were similar in age and education. Primary analyses defined six subcortical regions, the gray and white matter of primary cortical lobes and cerebellum, and abnormal signal in the cerebral white matter.

Results: As expected, basal ganglia and cerebral cortical gray matter volumes were significantly smaller in HD. The HD group also demonstrated significant cerebral white matter loss and an increase in the amount of abnormal signal in the white matter; occipital white matter appeared more affected than other cerebral white matter regions. Cortical gray and white matter measures were significantly related to caudate volume. Cerebellar gray and white matter volumes were both smaller in HD.

Conclusions: The cerebellum and the integrity of cerebral white matter may play a more significant role in the symptomatology of HD than previously thought. Furthermore, changes in cortical gray and cerebral white matter were related to caudate atrophy, supporting a similar mechanism of degeneration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Caudate Nucleus / pathology
  • Cerebellum / pathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Diencephalon / pathology
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / diagnosis
  • Huntington Disease / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelin Sheath / pathology*
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Nucleus Accumbens / pathology
  • Organ Size
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology
  • Thalamus / pathology