Hippocampal morphology in Huntington's disease, implications for plasticity and pathogenesis: The IMAGE-HD study

Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2023 Oct:335:111694. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2023.111694. Epub 2023 Aug 2.


While striatal changes in Huntington's Disease (HD) are well established, few studies have investigated changes in the hippocampus, a key neuronal hub. Using MRI scans obtained from the IMAGE-HD study, hippocampi were manually traced and then analysed with the Spherical Harmonic Point Distribution Method (SPHARM-PDM) in 36 individuals with presymptomatic-HD, 37 with early symptomatic-HD, and 36 healthy matched controls. There were no significant differences in overall hippocampal volume between groups. Interestingly we found decreased bilateral hippocampal volume in people with symptomatic-HD who took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors compared to those who did not, despite no significant differences in anxiety, depressive symptoms, or motor incapacity between the two groups. In symptomatic-HD, there was also significant shape deflation in the right hippocampal head, showing the utility of using manual tracing and SPHARM-PDM to characterise subtle shape changes which may be missed by other methods. This study confirms previous findings of the lack of hippocampal volumetric differentiation in presymptomatic-HD and symptomatic-HD compared to controls. We also find novel shape and volume findings in those with symptomatic-HD, especially in relation to decreased hippocampal volume in those treated with SSRIs.

Keywords: Depression; Hippocampus; Huntington's disease; SSRIs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Corpus Striatum
  • Hippocampus / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Neurons