Neuroimaging abnormalities in individuals exhibiting Parkinson's disease risk markers

Marcus Heldmann, Janna Heeren, Christine Klein, Linus Rauch, Johann Hagenah, Thomas F. Münte, Meike Kasten, Norbert Brüggemann*

*Korrespondierende/r Autor/-in für diese Arbeit
1 Zitat (Scopus)


Background: The concept of prodromal Parkinson's disease (PD) involves variable combinations of nonmotor features and subtle motor abnormalities as a result of ongoing neurodegeneration in the brain stem including substantia nigra (SN) and abnormal findings upon transcranial sonography and nuclear imaging. Except for nuclear imaging, the predictive value of risk markers for the conversion to overt PD is low. Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether PD risk markers are associated with changes in brain structure and to what extent cognitive changes are risk markers for PD. Methods: Diffusion-weighted imaging, voxel-based morphometry, and cortical thickness analysis was performed in 29 individuals with hyposmia and/or an increased SN hyperechogenicity (SN+) upon transcranial sonography and 28 controls without these 2 risk markers. Classical parkinsonian signs were an exclusion criterion. All of the participants underwent a neuropsychological test battery addressing executive functions, learning ability, and verbal fluency. Results: In the PD risk group, diffusion-weighted imaging mean diffusivity was increased in 4 left hemisphere clusters (posterior thalamus, inferior longitudinal fasciculus, fornix, corticospinal tract). A negative relationship of mean diffusivity and smell function was present for the posterior thalamus and the corticospinal tract. There was a significant correlation of mean diffusivity values and SN+ in all clusters. Neither voxel-based morphometry nor cortical thickness analysis revealed any group differences. No relevant group differences were observed for cognitive tests included. Conclusion: PD-free individuals with PD risk markers show microstructural changes of the white matter, including areas relevant for motor and limbic processes. In addition, our study provides for the first time a neuroanatomical correlate for SN hyperechogenicity.

ZeitschriftMovement Disorders
Seiten (von - bis)1412-1422
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 01.09.2018

Strategische Forschungsbereiche und Zentren

  • Forschungsschwerpunkt: Gehirn, Hormone, Verhalten - Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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