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Decreased Cerebellar Fiber Density in Cortical Myoclonic Tremor but Not in Essential Tremor


Pathophysiology of tremor generation remains uncertain in ‘familial cortical myoclonic tremor with epilepsy’ (FCMTE) and essential tremor (ET). In both disorders, imaging and pathological studies suggest involvement of the cerebellum and its projection areas. MR diffusion tensor imaging allows estimation of white matter tissue composition, and therefore is well suited to quantify structural changes in vivo. This study aimed to compare cerebellar fiber density between FCMTE and ET patients and healthy controls. Seven FCMTE patients, eight ET patients, and five healthy controls were studied. Cerebellum was annotated based on fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity volumes. Mean cerebellar FA values were computed as well as mean cerebellar volume. Group statistics included one-way ANOVAs and post hoc independent t tests. Mean FA of the cerebellar region for FCMTE was 0.242 (SD = 0.012), for ET 0.259 (SD = 0.0115), and for controls 0.262 (SD = 0.0146). There was a significant group effect for FA (F(2) = 4.9, p = 0.02). No difference in mean cerebellar volume was found. Post hoc independent t tests revealed significantly decreased mean FA in FCMTE patients compared to controls (t[10] = 2.5, p = 0.03) and ET patients (t[13] = 2.9, p = 0.01), while there was no difference in mean FA between ET patients and controls (t[11] < 1.0). This study indicates for the first time microstructural damage of the cerebellar white matter in FCMTE in vivo. These results ascertain a role of the cerebellum in ‘cortical tremor’.

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The authors report no conflicts of interest.

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Correspondence to Anne-Fleur van Rootselaar.

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Statistical analysis was performed by MWAC.

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Buijink, A.W.G., Caan, M.W.A., Tijssen, M.A.J. et al. Decreased Cerebellar Fiber Density in Cortical Myoclonic Tremor but Not in Essential Tremor. Cerebellum 12, 199–204 (2013).

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  • Tremor
  • Myoclonus
  • Cerebellum
  • DTI
  • Fiber density
  • Epilepsy