The topographic distribution of brain atrophy in Huntington's disease and progressive supranuclear palsy


The topographic distribution of brain atrophy was quantified by image analysis of fixed coronal brain slices from 12 patients dying with Huntington's disease (HD) and from 4 other patients dying with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). In HD, atrophy was maximal within the caudate nucleus, putamen and globus pallidus. However, the cerebral cortex was also atrophied with reductions in cross-sectional area within frontal, temporal and parietal lobes. In general, more white matter than grey matter was lost leading to an elevation in the grey/white matter ratio. The amygdala and thalamus were reduced in area. In PSP, lesser reductions in cortical area than those of HD were seen, these again being mostly due to a loss of white matter, resulting in an elevation of the grey/white ratio. The globus pallidus and thalamus were decreased in area, but no changes in the caudate nucleus and putamen were measured.

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Supported in part by an intercalated BSc studentship (RO) from the Medical Research Council

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Mann, D.M.A., Oliver, R. & Snowden, J.S. The topographic distribution of brain atrophy in Huntington's disease and progressive supranuclear palsy. Acta Neuropathol 85, 553–559 (1993).

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Key words

  • Brain atrophy
  • Huntington's disease
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy
  • Subcortical dementia