Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is associated with degeneration of white matter tracts that can be detected using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). However, little is known about whether tract degeneration is associated with the clinical symptoms of PSP. The aim of this study was to use DTI to assess white matter tract degeneration in PSP and to investigate correlates, between tract integrity and clinical measures.
Tertiary care medical centre
Twenty subjects with probable PSP and 20 age and gender-matched healthy controls. All PSP subjects underwent standardized clinical testing, including the Frontal Behavioral Inventory and Frontal Assessment Battery to assess behavioral change; the PSP Rating Scale to measure disease severity, the Movement Disorder Society-sponsored revision of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (parts I, II and III) to measure motor function, and the PSP Saccadic Impairment Scale to measure eye movement abnormalities.
Main outcome measures
Fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity measured using both region-of-interest analysis and Track Based Spatial Statistics.
Abnormal diffusivity was observed predominantly in superior cerebellar peduncles, body of the corpus callosum, inferior longitudinal fasciculus and superior longitudinal fasciculus in PSP compared to controls. Fractional anisotropy values in the superior cerebellar peduncles correlated with disease severity; inferior longitudinal fasciculus correlated with motor function, and superior longitudinal fasciculus correlated with severity of saccadic impairments.
These results demonstrate that PSP is associated with degeneration of brainstem, association and commissural fibers and that this degeneration likely plays an important role in clinical dysfunction.