Diagnostic Neuroradiology

Neuroradiology

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 285-292

First online:

Diffusion tensor imaging of the cortico-ponto-cerebellar pathway in patients with adult-onset ataxic neurodegenerative disease

  • Kaeko KitamuraAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Keiko NakayamaAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine
  • , Satoru KosakaAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine
  • , Eiji YamadaAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine
  • , Hiroyuki ShimadaAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine
  • , Takami MikiAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine
  • , Yuichi InoueAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine

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Abstract

Introduction

We sought to determine whether diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) can detect in vivo axonal damage in the corticopontocerebellar pathway of patients with adult-onset ataxic neurodegenerative disease.

Methods

Conventional MRI and DTI were performed on 18 patients with adult-onset ataxic neurodegenerative disease and 28 age-matched control subjects. Fractional anisotropy (FA) and the mean diffusivity (MD) were measured in the ventral, central, and dorsal pons, middle cerebellar peduncle (MCP) and internal capsule to evaluate corticopontocerebellar projection. Changes in FA and MD values were compared between patients and controls. Clinical disability was assessed according to the International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale (ICARS). The relationship between DTI measurements and ICARS was studied. Follow-up MRI was performed in five patients approximately 1 year later.

Results

FA values were significantly lower in the ventral and central portions of the pons, MCP, and internal capsules than in these areas in control subjects (P < 0.05) with the lower FA values correlating with poorer ICARS (r > −0.57, P < 0.05). MD values were elevated in these areas, but the differences were smaller than for the FA values. No relationship was observed between the MD and ICARS. In the five patients who underwent the follow-up study, there were significant decreases between the initial study and the follow-up DTI study for FA in the MCP and internal capsule (P < 0.05).

Conclusion

DTI can demonstrate a degenerated corticopontocerebellar pathway in patients, and FA values can be correlated with ataxia severity. DTI may be a clinically useful tool as a quantitative surrogate marker for monitoring disease progression.

Keywords

Diffusion tensor imaging Cortico-ponto-cerebellar pathway Neurodegenerative disease Ataxia Fractional anisotropy