Longitudinal Study of Gray Matter Changes in Parkinson Disease

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2015 Dec;36(12):2219-26. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A4447. Epub 2015 Sep 10.


Background and purpose: The pathology of Parkinson disease leads to morphological brain volume changes. So far, the progressive gray matter volume change across time specific to patients with Parkinson disease compared controls remains unclear. Our aim was to investigate the pattern of gray matter changes in patients with Parkinson disease and to explore the progressive gray matter volume change specific to patients with Parkinson disease with disease progression by using voxel-based morphometry analysis.

Materials and methods: Longitudinal cognitive assessment and structural MR imaging of 89 patients with Parkinson disease (62 men) and 55 healthy controls (33 men) were from the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative data base, including the initial baseline and 12-month follow-up data. Two-way analysis of covariance was performed with covariates of age, sex, years of education, imaging data from multiple centers, and total intracranial volume by using Diffeomorphic Anatomical Registration Through Exponentiated Lie Algebra tool from SPM8 software.

Results: Gray matter volume changes for patients with Parkinson disease were detected with decreased gray matter volume in the frontotemporoparietal areas and the bilateral caudate, with increased gray matter volume in the bilateral limbic/paralimbic areas, medial globus pallidus/putamen, and the right occipital cortex compared with healthy controls. Progressive gray matter volume decrease in the bilateral caudate was found for both patients with Parkinson disease and healthy controls, and this caudate volume was positively associated with cognitive ability for both groups. The progressive gray matter volume increase specific to the patients with Parkinson disease was identified close to the left ventral lateral nucleus of thalamus, and a positive relationship was found between the thalamic volume and the tremor scores in a subgroup with tremor-dominant patients with Parkinson disease.

Conclusions: The observed progressive changes in gray matter volume in Parkinson disease may provide new insights into the neurodegenerative process. The current findings suggest that the caudate volume loss may contribute to cognitive decline in patients with Parkinson disease and the progressive thalamus enlargement may have relevance to tremor severity in Parkinson disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*