Striatal changes in Parkinson disease: An investigation of morphology, functional connectivity and their relationship to clinical symptoms
We sought to investigate morphological and resting state functional connectivity changes to the striatal nuclei in Parkinson disease (PD) and examine whether changes were associated with measures of clinical function. Striatal nuclei were manually segmented on 3T-T1 weighted MRI scans of 74 PD participants and 27 control subjects, quantitatively analysed for volume, shape and also functional connectivity using functional MRI data. Bilateral caudate nuclei and putamen volumes were significantly reduced in the PD cohort compared to controls. When looking at left and right hemispheres, the PD cohort had significantly smaller left caudate nucleus and right putamen volumes compared to controls. A significant correlation was found between greater atrophy of the caudate nucleus and poorer cognitive function, and between greater atrophy of the putamen and more severe motor symptoms. Resting-state functional MRI analysis revealed altered functional connectivity of the striatal structures in the PD group. This research demonstrates that PD involves atrophic changes to the caudate nucleus and putamen that are linked to clinical dysfunction. Our work reveals important information about a key structure-function relationship in the brain and provides support for caudate nucleus and putamen atrophy as neuroimaging biomeasures in PD.