Rasagiline is a monoamine oxidase type B inhibitor that possesses no amphetamine-like properties, and provides symptomatic relief in early and late stages of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Data in animal models of PD suggest that chronic administration of rasagiline is associated with structural changes in the substantia nigra, and raise the question whether the structure and function of the basal ganglia could be different in PD patients treated chronically with rasagiline as compared with PD patients not treated with rasagiline. Here, we performed a retrospective cross-sectional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study at 3 T that investigated nigrostriatal function and structure in PD patients who had taken rasagiline before testing (∼8 months), PD who had not taken rasagiline before testing, and age-matched controls. The two PD groups were selected a priori to not differ significantly in age, sex, disease duration, severity of symptoms, cognitive status, and total levodopa equivalent daily dose of medication. We evaluated percent signal change in the posterior putamen during force production using functional MRI, free-water in the posterior substantia nigra using diffusion MRI, and performance on a bimanual coordination task using a pegboard test. All patients were tested after overnight withdrawal from antiparkinsonian medication. The rasagiline group had greater percent signal change in the posterior putamen, less free-water in the posterior substantia nigra, and better performance on the coordination task than the group not taking rasagiline. These findings point to a possible chronic effect of rasagiline on the structure and function of the basal ganglia in PD.
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Conventional single tensor diffusion analysis models have provided mixed findings in the substantia nigra of Parkinson’s disease, but recent work using a bi-tensor analysis model has shown more promising results. Using a bi-tensor model, free-water values were found to be increased in the posterior substantia nigra of Parkinson’s disease compared with controls at a single site and in a multi-site cohort. Further, free-water increased longitudinally over 1 year in the posterior substantia nigra of Parkinson’s disease. Here, we test the hypothesis that other parkinsonian disorders such as multiple system atrophy and progressive supranuclear palsy have elevated free-water in the substantia nigra. Equally important, however, is whether the bi-tensor diffusion model is able to detect alterations in other brain regions beyond the substantia nigra in Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, and progres- sive supranuclear palsy and to accurately distinguish between these diseases. Free-water and free-water-corrected fractional an- isotropy maps were compared across 72 individuals in the basal ganglia, midbrain, thalamus, dentate nucleus, cerebellar peduncles, cerebellar vermis and lobules V and VI, and corpus callosum. Compared with controls, free-water was increased in the anterior and posterior substantia nigra of Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, and progressive supranuclear palsy. Despite no other changes in Parkinson’s disease, we observed elevated free-water in all regions except the dentate nucleus, subthalamic nucleus, and corpus callosum of multiple system atrophy, and in all regions examined for progressive supranuclear palsy. Compared with controls, free-water-corrected fractional anisotropy values were increased for multiple system atrophy in the putamen and caudate, and increased for progressive supranuclear palsy in the putamen, caudate, thalamus, and vermis, and decreased in the superior cerebellar peduncle and corpus callosum. For all disease group comparisons, the support vector machine 10-fold cross-validation area under the curve was between 0.93–1.00 and there was high sensitivity and specificity. The regions and diffusion measures selected by the model varied across comparisons and are consistent with pathological studies. In conclusion, the current study used a novel bi-tensor diffusion analysis model to indicate that all forms of parkinsonism had elevated free-water in the substantia nigra. Beyond the substantia nigra, both multiple system atrophy and progressive supranuclear palsy, but not Parkinson’s disease, showed a broad network of elevated free-water and altered free-water corrected fractional anisotropy that included the basal ganglia, thalamus, and cerebellum. These findings may be helpful in the differential diagnosis of parkinsonian disorders, and thereby facilitate the development and assessment of targeted therapies.
Pain-related adaptions in movement require a network architecture that allows for integration across pain and motor circuits. Previous studies addressing this issue have focused on cortical areas such as the midcingulate cortex. Here we focus on pain and motor processing in the human cerebellum. The goal in the current study was to identify areas of activation in the cerebellum that are common to pain and motor processing and to determine whether the activation is limited to the superior and inferior cerebellar motor maps, or extends into multimodal areas of the posterior cerebellum. Our observations identified overlapping activity in left and right lobules VI and VIIb during pain and motor processing. Activation in these multimodal regions persisted when pain and motor processes were combined within the same trial, and activation in contralateral left lobule VIIb persisted when stimulation was controlled for. Functional connectivity analyses revealed significant correlations in the BOLD timeseries between multimodal cerebellar regions and sensorimotor regions in the cerebrum including anterior midcingulate cortex, supplementary motor area, and thalamus. The current findings are the first to show multimodal processing in lobules VI and VIIb for motor control and pain processing, and suggest that the posterior cerebellum may be important in understanding pain-related adaptations in motor control.
There is a clear need to develop non-invasive markers of substantia nigra progression in Parkinson’s disease. We previously found elevated free-water levels in the substantia nigra for patients with Parkinson’s disease compared with controls in single-site and multi-site cohorts. Here, we test the hypotheses that free-water levels in the substantia nigra of Parkinson’s disease increase following 1 year of progression, and that baseline free-water levels in the substantia nigra predict the change in bradykinesia following 1 year. We conducted a longitudinal study in controls (n = 19) and patients with Parkinson’s disease (n = 25). Diffusion imaging and clinical data were collected at baseline and after 1 year. Free-water analyses were performed on diffusion imaging data using blinded, hand-drawn regions of interest in the posterior substantia nigra. A group effect indicated free-water values were increased in the posterior substantia nigra of patients with Parkinson’s disease compared with controls (P = 0.003) and we observed a significant group × time interaction (P < 0.05). Free-water values increased for the Parkinson's disease group after 1 year (P = 0.006), whereas control free-water values did not change. Baseline free-water values predicted the 1 year change in bradykinesia scores (r = 0.74, P < 0.001) and 1 year change in Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores (r = -0.44, P = 0.03). Free-water in the posterior substantia nigra is elevated in Parkinson's disease, increases with progression of Parkinson's disease, and predicts subsequent changes in bradykinesia and cognitive status over 1 year. These findings demonstrate that free-water provides a potential non-invasive progression marker of the substantia nigra.
Longitudinal Changes in SN 2015
Precise motor control requires the ability to scale the parameters of movement. Theta oscillations across the cortex have been associated with changes in memory, attention, and sensorimotor processing. What has proven more elusive is pinpointing the region-specific frequency band oscillations that are associated with specific parameters of movement during the acceleration and deceleration phases. We report a study using 3D analytic techniques for high density electroencephalography that examines electrocortical dynamics while participants produce upper limb movements to different distances at varying rates. During fast ballistic movements, we observed increased theta band activity in the left motor area contralateral to the moving limb during the acceleration phase of the movement, and theta power correlated with the acceleration of movement. In contrast, beta band activity scaled with the type of movement during the deceleration phase near the end of the movement and correlated with movement time. In the ipsilateral motor and somatosensory area, alpha band activity decreased with the type of movement near the end of the movement, and gamma band activity in visual cortex increased with the type of movement near the end of the movement. Our results suggest that humans use distinct lateralized cortical activity for distance and speed dependent arm movements. We provide new evidence that a temporary increase in theta band power relates to movement acceleration and is important during movement execution. Further, the theta power increase is coupled with desychronization of beta band power and alpha band power which are modulated by the task near the end of movement.
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Parkinson’s disease (PD) and the parkinsonian variant of multiple system atrophy (MSAp) are neurodegenerative disorders that can be difficult to differentiate clinically. This study provides the first characterization of the patterns of task-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) changes across the whole brain in MSAp. We used fMRI during a precision grip force task and also performed voxel-based morphometry (VBM) on T1-weighted images in MSAp patients, PD patients, and healthy controls. All groups were matched on age, and the patient groups had comparable motor symptom durations and severities. There were three main findings. First, MSAp and PD had reduced fMRI activation in motor control areas, including the basal ganglia, thalamus, insula, primary sensorimotor and prefrontal cortices, and cerebellum compared with controls. Second, there were no activation differences among the disease groups in the basal ganglia, thalamus, insula, or primary sensorimotor cortices, but PD had more extensive activation deficits throughout the cerebrum compared with MSAp and controls. Third, VBM revealed reduced volume in the basal ganglia, middle and inferior cerebellar peduncles, pons, and throughout the cerebrum in MSAp compared with controls and PD, and additionally throughout the cerebellar cortex and vermis in MSAp compared with controls. Collectively, these results provide the first evidence that fMRI activation is abnormal in the basal ganglia, cerebellum, and cerebrum in MSAp, and that a key distinguishing feature between MSAp and PD is the extensive and widespread volume loss throughout the brain in MSAp.
Link to article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hbm.22694/abstract
Measures from diffusion magnetic resonance imaging reflect changes in the substantia nigra of Parkinson’s disease. It is the case, however, that partial volume effects from free-water can bias diffusion measurements. The bi-tensor diffusion model was introduced to quantify the contribution of free-water and eliminates its bias on estimations of tissue microstructure. Here, we test the hypothesis that free-water is elevated in the substantia nigra for Parkinson’s disease compared with controls. This hypothesis was tested between large cohorts of Parkinson’s disease and control participants in a single-site study, and validated against a multi-site study using multiple scanners. The fractional volume of free-water was increased in the posterior region of the substantia nigra in Parkinson’s disease compared with controls in both the single-site and multi-site studies. We did not observe changes in either cohort for free-water corrected fractional anisotropy or free-water corrected mean diffusivity. Our findings provide new evidence that the free-water index reflects alteration of the substantia nigra in Parkinson’s disease, and this was evidenced across both single-site and multi-site cohorts.
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Kurani et al. 2014 Neurobiology of Aging
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Previous research has indicated increased functional connectivity between subthalamic nucleus (STN) and sensorimotor cortex in off-medication Parkinson’s disease (PD) compared with control subjects. It is not clear if the increase in functional connectivity between STN and sensorimotor cortex occurs in de novo PD, which is before patients begin dopamine therapy. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging was carried out in 20 de novo (drug naïve) patients with PD (Hoehn and Yahr stage: I-II), 19 patients with moderate PD (Hoehn and Yahr stage: II-III), and 19 healthy controls. The functional connectivity analysis in de novo and moderate PD patients focused on the connectivity of the more affected STN and the sensorimotor cortex. Using resting-state functional connectivity analysis, we provide new evidence that people with de novo PD and off-medicated moderate PD have increased functional connectivity between the more affected STN and different regions within the sensorimotor cortex. The overlapping sensorimotor cortex found in both de novo and moderate PD had functional connectivity values that correlated positively with the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale part III. This key finding suggests that changes in functional connectivity between STN and sensorimotor cortex occur early in the disease following diagnosis and before dopamine therapy.
Neely et al. (2014) Cerebral Cortex
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It is well-established that during goal-directed motor tasks, patients with essential tremor have increased oscillations in the 0–3 and 3–8 Hz bands. It remains unclear if these increased oscillations relate to activity in specific brain regions. This study used task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare the brain activity associated with oscillations in grip force output between patients with essential tremor, patients with Parkinson’s disease who had clinically evident tremor, and healthy controls. The findings demonstrate that patients with essential tremor have increased brain activity in the motor cortex and supplementary motor area compared with controls, and this activity correlated positively with 3–8 Hz force oscillations. Brain activity in cerebellar lobules I–V was reduced in essential tremor compared with controls and correlated negatively with 0–3 Hz force oscillations. Widespread differences in brain activity were observed between essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease. Using functional connectivity analyses during the task evidenced reduced cerebellar-cortical functional connectivity in patients with essential tremor compared with controls and Parkinson’s disease. This study provides new evidence that in essential tremor 3–8 Hz force oscillations relate to hyperactivity in motor cortex, 0–3 Hz force oscillations relate to the hypoactivity in the cerebellum, and cerebellar-cortical functional connectivity is impaired.
PLoS One. 2014 Feb 4;9(2):e88105. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088105. eCollection 2014.
Dose-response effect of isometric force production on the perception of pain.
Misra G, Paris TA, Archer DB, Coombes SA.
Isometric contractions can influence the way that we perceive pain, but conclusions on the dose-response effect of force amplitude on pain perception are limited because previous studies have not held the duration of force contractions constant while varying force amplitude. To address this issue we designed an experiment that allowed us to accurately guide the amplitude of an isometric pinch grip force contraction on a trial-by-trial basis, while a thermal pain eliciting stimulus was simultaneously delivered for the same duration to the non-contracting hand. Our results show that an increase in the amplitude of force produced by one hand corresponded with a decrease in pain perception in the opposite hand. Our observations provide novel evidence that the centralized inhibitory response that underlies analgesia is sensitive to and enhanced by stronger isometric contractions.