Shape analysis of subcortical nuclei in Huntington's disease, global versus local atrophy--results from the TRACK-HD study

J Neurol Sci. 2011 Aug 15;307(1-2):60-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2011.05.015. Epub 2011 May 31.


Huntington's disease (HD) is characterized by brain atrophy. Localized atrophy of a specific structure could potentially be a more sensitive biomarker reflecting neuropathologic changes rather than global volume variation. We examined 90 TRACK-HD participants of which 30 were premanifest HD, 30 were manifest HD and 30 were controls. Using FMRIB's Integrated Registration and Segmentation Tool, segmentations were obtained for the pallidum, caudate nucleus, putamen, thalamus, accumbens nucleus, amygdala, and hippocampus and overall volumes were calculated. A point distribution model of each structure was obtained using Growing and Adaptive Meshes. Permutation testing between groups was performed to detect local displacement in shape between groups. In premanifest HD overall volume loss occurred in the putamen, accumbens and caudate nucleus. Overall volume reductions in manifest HD were found in all subcortical structures, except the amygdala, as compared to controls. In premanifest HD shape analysis showed small areas of displacement in the putamen, pallidum, accumbens and caudate nucleus. When the premanifest group was split into two groups according to predicted disease onset, the premanifest HD group close to expected disease onset showed more pronounced displacements in caudate nucleus and putamen compared to premanifest HD far from disease onset or the total premanifest group. Analysis of shape in manifest HD showed widespread shape differences, most prominently in the caudal part of the accumbens nucleus, body of the caudate nucleus, putamen and dorsal part of the pallidum. We conclude that shape analysis provides new insights in localized intrastructural atrophy patterns in HD, but can also potentially serve as specific target areas for disease tracking.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / pathology*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged