Gray matter atrophy distinguishes between Parkinson disease motor subtypes

Neurology. 2013 Apr 16;80(16):1476-84. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31828cfaa4. Epub 2013 Mar 20.


Objective: To assess differences in gray matter (GM) atrophy between 2 Parkinson disease (PD) subtypes: the tremor dominant (TD) subtype and the postural instability gait difficulty (PIGD) subtype.

Methods: Patients were classified as belonging to the predominately PIGD (n = 30) or predominately TD (n = 29) subtype. Voxel-based morphometry was used to compare GM in these 2 subtypes and to evaluate correlations between predefined regions of interest and the degree of symptoms. In the regions where GM atrophy was associated with symptoms, the relationship between GM volumes and functional connectivity was examined.

Results: GM was reduced in the predominately PIGD group, compared with the predominately TD group, in areas that involve motor, cognitive, limbic, and associative functions (p < 0.05, false discovery rate corrected). Lower GM volumes in the pre-supplementary motor area (SMA) and in the primary motor area were associated with increased severity of PIGD symptoms (r = -0.42, p < 0.001; r = -0.38, p < 0.003, respectively). Higher GM volumes within the pre-SMA were associated with stronger functional connectivity between the pre-SMA and the putamen (r = 0.415, p < 0.025) in the patients with predominately PIGD.

Conclusions: In patients with PD, PIGD symptoms are apparently associated with GM atrophy in motor-related regions and decreased functional connectivity. GM degeneration and a related decrease in spontaneous coactivation between cortical and subcortical motor-planning areas may partially account for the unique clinical characteristics of a subset of patients with PD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antiparkinson Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use
  • Atrophy
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / pathology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Levodopa / administration & dosage
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement Disorders / etiology
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology
  • Nerve Net / pathology
  • Neural Pathways / pathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parkinson Disease / classification
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis*
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Risk Factors


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Levodopa