Longitudinal brain structure changes in Parkinson's disease: A replication study

PLoS One. 2024 Jan 31;19(1):e0295069. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0295069. eCollection 2024.


Context: An existing major challenge in Parkinson's disease (PD) research is the identification of biomarkers of disease progression. While magnetic resonance imaging is a potential source of PD biomarkers, none of the magnetic resonance imaging measures of PD are robust enough to warrant their adoption in clinical research. This study is part of a project that aims to replicate 11 PD studies reviewed in a recent survey (JAMA neurology, 78(10) 2021) to investigate the robustness of PD neuroimaging findings to data and analytical variations.

Objective: This study attempts to replicate the results in Hanganu et al. (Brain, 137(4) 2014) using data from the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI).

Methods: Using 25 PD subjects and 18 healthy controls, we analyzed the rate of change of cortical thickness and of the volume of subcortical structures, and we measured the relationship between structural changes and cognitive decline. We compared our findings to the results in the original study.

Results: (1) Similarly to the original study, PD patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) exhibited increased cortical thinning over time compared to patients without MCI in the right middle temporal gyrus, insula, and precuneus. (2) The rate of cortical thinning in the left inferior temporal and precentral gyri in PD patients correlated with the change in cognitive performance. (3) There were no group differences in the change of subcortical volumes. (4) We did not find a relationship between the change in subcortical volumes and the change in cognitive performance.

Conclusion: Despite important differences in the dataset used in this replication study, and despite differences in sample size, we were able to partially replicate the original results. We produced a publicly available reproducible notebook allowing researchers to further investigate the reproducibility of the results in Hanganu et al. (2014) when more data is added to PPMI.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortical Thinning / pathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Parkinson Disease* / pathology
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Biomarkers

Grants and funding

This work was funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF-021134; https://www.michaeljfox.org). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.