Imaging biomarkers are useful outcome measures in treatment trials. We compared sample size estimates for future treatment trials performed over 6 or 12-months in progressive supranuclear palsy using both imaging and clinical measures. We recruited 16 probable progressive supranuclear palsy patients that underwent baseline, 6 and 12-month brain scans, and 16 age-matched controls with serial scans. Disease severity was measured at each time-point using the progressive supranuclear palsy rating scale. Rates of ventricular expansion and rates of atrophy of the whole brain, superior frontal lobe, thalamus, caudate and midbrain were calculated. Rates of atrophy and clinical decline were used to calculate sample sizes required to power placebo-controlled treatment trials over 6 and 12-months. Rates of whole brain, thalamus and midbrain atrophy, and ventricular expansion, were increased over 6 and 12-months in progressive supranuclear palsy compared to controls. The progressive supranuclear palsy rating scale increased by 9 points over 6-months, and 18 points over 12-months. The smallest sample size estimates for treatment trials over 6-months were achieved using rate of midbrain atrophy, followed by rate of whole brain atrophy and ventricular expansion. Sample size estimates were further reduced over 12-month intervals. Sample size estimates for the progressive supranuclear palsy rating scale were worse than imaging measures over 6-months, but comparable over 12-months. Atrophy and clinical decline can be detected over 6-months in progressive supranuclear palsy. Sample size estimates suggest that treatment trials could be performed over this interval, with rate of midbrain atrophy providing the best outcome measure.
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