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Limbic grey matter changes in early Parkinson's disease

Li, Xingfeng; Xing, Yue; Schwarz, Stefan Theodor; Auer, Dorothee P.


Xingfeng Li

Research Fellow

Stefan Theodor Schwarz

Dorothee P. Auer


The purpose of this study was to investigate local and network related changes of limbic grey matter in early Parkinson’s disease (PD) and their interrelation with non-motor symptom severity. We applied voxel-based morphometric methods in 538 T1 MRI images retrieved from the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative website. Grey matter densities and cross-sectional estimates of age-related grey matter change were compared between subjects with early PD (n=366) and age-matched healthy controls (n=172) within a regression model, and associations of grey matter density with symptoms were investigated. Structural brain networks were obtained using covariance analysis seeded in regions showing grey matter abnormalities in PD subject group. Patients displayed focally reduced grey matter density in the right amygdala, which was present from the earliest stages of the disease without further advance in mild-moderate disease stages. Right amygdala grey matter density showed negative correlation with autonomic dysfunction and positive with cognitive performance in patients, but no significant interrelations were found with anxiety scores. Patients with PD also demonstrated right amygdala structural disconnection with less structural connectivity of the right amygdala with the cerebellum and thalamus but increased covariance with bilateral temporal cortices compared with controls. Age-related grey matter change was also increased in PD preferentially in the limbic system. In conclusion, detailed brain morphometry in a large group of early PD highlights predominant limbic grey matter deficits with stronger age-associations compared with controls and associated altered structural connectivity pattern. This provides in vivo evidence for early limbic grey matter pathology and structural network changes that may reflect extranigral disease spread in PD.


Li, X., Xing, Y., Schwarz, S. T., & Auer, D. P. (in press). Limbic grey matter changes in early Parkinson's disease. Human Brain Mapping,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 28, 2017
Online Publication Date Apr 1, 2017
Deposit Date Apr 27, 2017
Publicly Available Date Apr 27, 2017
Journal Human Brain Mapping
Print ISSN 1065-9471
Electronic ISSN 1097-0193
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Parkinson’s disease, amygdala, voxel-based morphometry, structural connectivity, brain age-related change
Public URL
Publisher URL


Li_et_al-2017-Human_Brain_Mapping.pdf (581 Kb)

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