Longitudinal assessment of grey matter contraction in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: A tensor based morphometry study

Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2009 Jun;10(3):168-74. doi: 10.1080/17482960802603841.


Our objective was to investigate grey matter (GM) contraction in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) using tensor based morphometry (TBM). Using a 1.5 Tesla scanner, T1-weighted MRI scans were obtained at baseline and at follow-up (mean interval, 9 months) from 16 ALS and 10 controls. Standard TBM procedures in Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM2) were used for image processing and statistical analyses. The frontotemporal cortex and basal ganglia were considered areas of interest, based on pathological studies. Eight patients showed rapid clinical progression of ALS during the follow-up period. Compared to controls, all ALS patients showed progression of GM atrophy in left premotor cortex and right basal ganglia. Patients with rapidly progressing ALS showed GM atrophy changes in a larger motor cortical-subcortical area and in extramotor frontal regions compared to both controls and to non-rapidly progressing cases. Thus, TBM detected longitudinal atrophy changes in the motor network in ALS occurring over less than one year. The faster the clinical progression, the greater was the GM loss in motor and prefrontal areas. Further advances in tracking longitudinal changes in cortical and subcortical regions in ALS may provide an objective marker for monitoring disease progression, and the disease-modifying effect of potential treatments.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Atrophy / pathology*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged