Progression of white matter degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: A diffusion tensor imaging study

Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2011 Nov;12(6):421-9. doi: 10.3109/17482968.2011.593036. Epub 2011 Jul 11.


Whether longitudinal diffusion tensor MRI imaging (DTI) can capture disease progression in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is unclear. The primary goal of this study was to determine if DTI detects progression of the corticospinal tracts (CST) degeneration in ALS. Seventeen ALS patients and 19 age- and gender-matched healthy controls were scanned with DTI at baseline for cross-sectional analyses. For longitudinal analyses, the ALS patients had repeat DTI scans after eight months. Tractography of the CST was used to guide regions-of-interest (ROI) analysis and complemented by a voxelwise analysis. Cross-sectional study found that baseline FA of the right superior CST was markedly reduced in ALS patients compared to controls. The FA reductions in this region correlated with the disease severity in ALS patients. Longitudinal study found that FA change rate of the right superior CST significantly declined over time. In conclusion, longitudinal DTI study captures progression of upper motor fiber degeneration in ALS. DTI can be useful for monitoring ALS progression and efficacy of treatment interventions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / methods*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology*
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology*
  • Pyramidal Tracts / pathology