Chorea-acanthocytosis: Time-dependent changes of symptoms and imaging findings

J Neuroradiol. 2021 Nov;48(6):419-424. doi: 10.1016/j.neurad.2019.11.006. Epub 2019 Dec 13.


Background and purpose: Chorea-acanthocytosis, a rare neurodegenerative disease, affects both the striatum and the medial temporal lobe which may cause involuntary movements and epilepsy, respectively. We examined the imaging changes of the hippocampus/amygdala and the striatum as well as clinical symptoms.

Materials and methods: We retrospectively reviewed 29 MRI and 13 SPECT studies and the clinical findings of seven genetically confirmed chorea-acanthocytosis patients. We evaluated the time-dependent imaging changes of the hippocampus/amygdala and striatum and examined the relationships among these images and symptoms.

Results: The initial symptom was epilepsy in four patients and involuntary movements in three patients. These symptoms were eventually noted in five and all seven patients, respectively. On MRI, most patients showed striatum atrophy before a hippocampus/amygdala abnormality emerged, but one patient showed a hippocampus/amygdala abnormality before striatum atrophy. Abnormal MRI findings of hippocampus/amygdala were noted in five patients and atrophy of striatum in all seven patients. SPECT demonstrated hypoperfusion of hippocampus/amygdala in three patients and that of striatum in all five available patients. Four patients demonstrated hypoperfusion of striatum earlier than that of hippocampus/amygdala and one patient showed hypoperfusion of both simultaneously. Many imaging abnormal lesions were accompanied by their corresponding symptoms, but not always so.

Conclusion: Striatum abnormalities were the initial imaging findings in many chorea-acanthocytosis patients, but epilepsy or hippocampus/amygdala imaging abnormalities may be the only findings at the early stage. It is important to understand the detailed clinical and imaging time courses for the diagnosis of chorea-acanthocytosis.

Keywords: Chorea-acanthocytosis; Epilepsy; Involuntary movements; MRI; SPECT.

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe*
  • Hippocampus
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neuroacanthocytosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*
  • Retrospective Studies