Neurol Sci 2014 Jun 17;35(6):911-8. Epub 2014 Jan 17.
Institute of Neurology, University Magna Græcia, Catanzaro, Italy.
In this study, we used an automated segmentation of regions of interest and co-registration to diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) images to investigate whether microstructural abnormalities occur in gray structures of the frontal-subcortical circuits in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Twenty-four patients with probable or definite sporadic ALS and 22 healthy controls were enrolled in the study. Thirteen out of 24 ALS patients and all of the control subjects underwent a detailed neuropsychological evaluation. DTI was performed to measure mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy in the frontal cortex, caudate, putamen, globus pallidus, thalamus, amygdala and hippocampus. MD values of ALS patients were significantly higher in the frontal cortex (P = 0.023), caudate (P = 0.01), thalamus (P = 0.019), amygdala (P = 0.012) and hippocampus (P = 0.002) compared to controls. MD of these structures significantly correlated to a variable degree with neurological disability and neuropsychological dysfunctions. The increased MD values in several cortical and subcortical gray structures and their correlations with neuropsychological variables substantiate a multisystemic degeneration in ALS and suggest that dysfunctions of frontal-subcortical circuits could play a pivotal role in frontal impairment and behavioral symptoms in ALS patients.