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Psychiatry Res. 2005 Oct 30;140(1):55-62. Epub 2005 Sep 30.

Regional white matter change in pre-symptomatic Huntington's disease: a diffusion tensor imaging study.

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Division of Psychiatric Neuroimaging, Department of Psychiatry, The Johns Hopkins University, Phipps 313, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.


The pathology of Huntington's disease (HD) is characterized by diffuse brain atrophy, with the most substantial neuronal loss occurring in the caudate and putamen. Recent evidence suggests that there may be more widespread neuronal degeneration with significant involvement of extrastriate structures, including white matter. In this study of pre-symptomatic carriers of the HD genetic mutation, we have used diffusion tensor imaging to examine the integrity and organization of white matter in a group of individuals who previously demonstrated abnormalities in response to a functional magnetic resonance imaging paradigm. Our results indicate that, before the onset of manifest HD, there are regional decreases in fractional anisotropy, indicating early white matter disorganization.

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