Parkinson's disease: alterations in brain structures associated with worsening of the disease identified

Parkinson’s disease: on Movement Disorders, an international study of the ENIGMA consortium, in which the State University of Milan participates

It is still unclear what are the abnormalities of brain structure in the course of Parkinson’s disease

Through a worldwide multicenter study and harmonized methods of analysis, researchers at the State University of Milan have sought to understand the specific pathological profiles of the clinical stages of the disease based on in vivo neuroimaging data.

Encephalic MRI and clinical data from 2,357 Parkinson’s disease subjects and 1,182 controls collected at 19 centers were analyzed.

Specifically, cortical thickness, cortical area surface area, and volumes of subcortical structures were analyzed using mixed-effects models in patients grouped according to clinical severity (Hoehn and Yahr scale) and compared with controls cross-matched for age and sex.

Within the sample of patients, a cognitive assessment was also performed, using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment score.

Overall, subjects with Parkinson’s disease showed a thinned cerebral cortex in 38 of the 68 regions examined.

Of particular interest is the identification of anatomical differences in three brain regions: the left amygdala and putamen bilaterally (deep gray matter structures of the brain implicated in Parkinson’s disease), were smaller, while the right thalamus was enlarged.

Staging analysis demonstrated initial thinning of the occipital, parietal, and temporal cortices with progressive rostral extension of thinning as clinical severity increased.

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Sapienza University

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