Background and purposeIn vivo MR imaging and postmortem neuropathologic studies have demonstrated elevated iron concentration and atrophy within the striatum of patients with Huntington disease, implicating neuronal loss and iron accumulation in the pathogenesis of this neurodegenerative disorder. We used 7T MR imaging to determine whether quantitative phase, a measurement that reflects both iron content and tissue microstructure, is altered in subjects with premanifest Huntington disease.
Materials and methodsLocal field shift, calculated from 7T MR phase images, was quantified in 13 subjects with premanifest Huntington disease and 13 age- and sex-matched controls. All participants underwent 3T and 7T MR imaging, including volumetric T1 and 7T gradient recalled-echo sequences. Local field shift maps were created from 7T phase data and registered to caudate ROIs automatically parcellated from the 3T T1 images. Huntington disease-specific disease burden and neurocognitive and motor evaluations were also performed and compared with local field shift.
ResultsSubjects with premanifest Huntington disease had smaller caudate volume and higher local field shift than controls. A significant correlation between these measurements was not detected, and prediction accuracy for disease state improved with inclusion of both variables. A positive correlation between local field shift and genetic disease burden was also found, and there was a trend toward significant correlations between local field shift and neurocognitive tests of working memory and executive function.
ConclusionsSubjects with premanifest Huntington disease exhibit differences in 7T MR imaging phase within the caudate nuclei that correlate with genetic disease burden and trend with neurocognitive assessments. Ultra-high-field MR imaging of quantitative phase may be a useful approach for monitoring neurodegeneration in premanifest Huntington disease.