Background: Abnormal repeat length has been associated with an earlier age of onset and more severe disease progression in the rare neurodegenerative disorder spinocerebellar ataxia 17 (SCA17). Methodology/Principal Findings: To determine whether specific structural brain degeneration and rate of disease progression in SCA17 might be associated with the CAG repeat size, observer-independent voxel-based morphometry was applied to high-resolution magnetic resonance images of 16 patients with SCA17 and 16 age-matched healthy controls. The main finding contrasting SCA17 patients with healthy controls demonstrated atrophy in the cerebellum bilaterally. Multiple regression analyses with available genetic data and also post-hoc correlations revealed an inverse relationship again with cerebellar atrophy. Moreover, we found an inverse relationship between the CAG repeat length and rate of disease progression. Conclusions: Our results highlight the fundamental role of the cerebellum in this neurodegenerative disease and support the genotype-phenotype relationship in SCA17 patients. Genetic factors may determine individual susceptibility to neurodegeneration and rate of disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15125
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 03.02.2011


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