Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3) is a rare genetic neurodegenerative disease. The neurobiological basis of SCA3 is still poorly understood, and up until now resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI) has not been used to study this disease. In the current study we investigated (multi-echo) rs-fMRI data from patients with genetically confirmed SCA3 (n = 17) and matched healthy subjects (n = 16). Using independent component analysis (ICA) and subsequent regression with bootstrap resampling, we identified a pattern of differences between patients and healthy subjects, which we coined the fMRI SCA3 related pattern (fSCA3-RP) comprising cerebellum, anterior striatum and various cortical regions. Individual fSCA3-RP scores were highly correlated with a previously published 18F-FDG PET pattern found in the same sample (rho = 0.78, P = 0.0003). Also, a high correlation was found with the Scale for Assessment and Rating of Ataxia scores (r = 0.63, P = 0.007). No correlations were found with neuropsychological test scores, nor with levels of grey matter atrophy. Compared with the 18F-FDG PET pattern, the fSCA3-RP included a more extensive contribution of the mediofrontal cortex, putatively representing changes in default network activity. This rs-fMRI identification of additional regions is proposed to reflect a consequence of the nature of the BOLD technique, enabling measurement of dynamic network activity, compared to the more static 18F-FDG PET methodology. Altogether, our findings shed new light on the neural substrate of SCA3, and encourage further validation of the fSCA3-RP to assess its potential contribution as imaging biomarker for future research and clinical use.
Keywords: Ataxia; BOLD; Brain glucose metabolism; Disease-related pattern; ICA.
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