A longitudinal study of diffusion tensor MRI in ALS

Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2007 Dec;8(6):348-55. doi: 10.1080/17482960701548139. Epub 2007 Oct 8.


In this study, we investigated whether diffusion tensor MRI (DTI) could detect progressive corticospinal tract degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and whether changes in diffusion variables reflected clinical deterioration. Twenty-three ALS patients and 25 healthy volunteers underwent whole brain DTI. Patients and a subset (n = 12) of controls returned for a second scan. Clinical measures of disease severity were assessed in the ALS group. Changes in fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) were measured along the corticospinal tract using a region of interest approach. Adequate DTI data were available in 11 ALS patients and 11 controls at two time points. FA and MD differed significantly between ALS patients and controls at both time points, but neither changed significantly over time, while global measures of disease severity in patients increased with time. Although we confirmed that DTI detects corticospinal tract damage in ALS, there were no significant changes in diffusion measures over time. The sensitivity of DTI may be improved by advanced data analysis techniques, although the high dropout rate suggests that use of MRI as a biomarker in ALS may be restricted to earlier stages of disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pyramidal Tracts / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Tracts / pathology