When does Huntington's disease begin?

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 1998 Sep;4(5):467-73. doi: 10.1017/s1355617798455061.


Recent studies have detected basal ganglia atrophy in clinically asymptomatic persons with the genetic mutation that causes Huntington's disease (HD). Whether reductions in caudate and putamen volume on MRI scans are associated with changes in cognitive and neurologic functioning was examined in 13 healthy adults with the IT-15 mutation. Reduced striatal volume was found to correlate with greater neurologic (largely motor) impairment, slower mental processing speed, and poorer verbal learning, although none of the participants met even liberal criteria for clinical diagnosis of HD. These correlations are strikingly similar to those observed in symptomatic HD patients, possibly reflecting the earliest manifestations of disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Basal Ganglia / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / genetics*
  • Huntington Disease / pathology*
  • Huntington Disease / psychology
  • Learning / physiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neostriatum / pathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology