Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by gait and postural disturbance, gaze palsy, apathy, decreased verbal fluency and dysexecutive symptoms, with some of these clinical features potentially having origins in degeneration of frontostriatal circuits and the mesencephalon. This hypothesis was investigated by manual segmentation of the caudate and putamen on MRI scans, using previously published protocols, in 15 subjects with PSP and 15 healthy age-matched controls. Midbrain atrophy was assessed by measurement of mid-sagittal area of the midbrain and pons. Shape analysis of the caudate and putamen was performed using spherical harmonics (SPHARM-PDM, University of North Carolina). The sagittal pons area/midbrain area ratio (P/M ratio) was significantly higher in the PSP group, consistent with previous findings. Significantly smaller striatal volumes were found in the PSP group - putamina were 10% smaller and caudate volumes were 17% smaller than in controls after controlling for age and intracranial volume. Shape analysis revealed significant shape deflation in PSP in the striatum, compared to controls; with regionally significant change relevant to frontostriatal and corticostriatal circuits in the caudate. Thus, in a clinically diagnosed and biomarker-confirmed cohort with early PSP, we demonstrate that neostriatal volume and shape are significantly reduced in vivo. The findings suggest a neostriatal and mesencephalic structural basis for the clinical features of PSP leading to frontostriatal and mesocortical-striatal circuit disruption.
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