Journal of Neurology

, Volume 266, Issue 5, pp 1274–1279 | Cite as

Crossed aphasia confirmed by fMRI in a case with nonfluent variant of primary progressive aphasia carrying a GRN mutation

  • Elisa Canu
  • Valentina Bessi
  • Michela Leocadi
  • Sonia Padiglioni
  • Benedetta Nacmias
  • Sandro Sorbi
  • Massimo Filippi
  • Federica AgostaEmail author
Short Commentary



To characterize patterns of language lateralization in a right-handed woman with nonfluent/agrammatic primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA) clinical picture despite showing a prevalent right-sided brain damage.


We report a case of a 58-year-old woman with nfvPPA diagnosis (age at onset = 55) previously described as a crossed aphasia case with progranulin mutation. At 2 years from the first visit, patient underwent 3DT1-weighted and a task-based functional MRI (fMRI). During the fMRI task, she was asked to perform a letter fluency test as the task of interest and to count forward as the control condition. Image processing and data analysis were performed using SPM12 and the effect of each task was tested at p < 0.05 FWE corrected.


The structural MRI confirmed a widespread right fronto-temporal atrophy mainly involving the right inferior frontal gyrus. During the letter fluency task, we observed an increased activation centered at the right inferior orbitofrontal gyrus and right middle frontal gyrus. By reducing the threshold, the pattern of functional activation was still dramatically prevalent at the right side.


We provided evidence of the right language lateralization in a previously suspected crossed nfvPPA. Despite the long disease duration and the large amount of atrophy at the right side, there was no fMRI evidence of a left-hemisphere contribution to language function. We might speculate that compensatory effects do not appear when the premorbid language lateralization is purely right. The investigation of the underlying functional brain substrates in crossed nfvPPA cases may help understanding disease vulnerability in these neurodegenerative conditions.


Crossed aphasia Nonfluent/agrammatic primary progressive aphasia Functional MRI (fMRI) Progranulin (GRN) mutation 



This study has been supported by the Italian Ministry of Health (GR-2011-02351217).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

E. Canu has received research supports from the Italian Ministry of Health. M. Leocadi, V. Bessi, S. Padiglioni, B. Nacmias, S. Sorbi report no disclosures. M. Filippi is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Neurology; has received compensation for consulting services and/or speaking activities from Biogen Idec, Merck Serono, Novartis, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries; and receives research support from Biogen Idec, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Novartis, Merck Serono, Roche, Italian Ministry of Health, Fondazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla, and ARiSLA (Fondazione Italiana di Ricerca per la SLA). F. Agosta is Section Editor of NeuroImage: Clinical; has received speaker honoraria from Biogen Idec and Novartis; and receives or has received research supports from the Italian Ministry of Health, AriSLA (Fondazione Italiana di Ricerca per la SLA), and the European Research Council.

Ethical standards

This study has been approved by the local ethics committee and has been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. The patient gave her informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study.

Supplementary material

415_2019_9298_MOESM1_ESM.docx (38 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 37 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuroimaging Research Unit, Institute of Experimental Neurology, Division of Neuroscience, San Raffaele Scientific InstituteVita-Salute San Raffaele UniversityMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of Neurology, Institute of Experimental Neurology, Division of Neuroscience, San Raffaele Scientific InstituteVita-Salute San Raffaele UniversityMilanItaly
  3. 3.Department of Neuroscience, Psychology, Drug Research and Child Health (NEUROFARBA)University of Florence, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria CareggiFlorenceItaly
  4. 4.IRCCS Fondazione Don Carlo GnocchiFlorenceItaly

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