The discovery of potential disease-modifying therapies in a neurodegenerative condition like Huntington's disease depends on the availability of sensitive biomarkers that reflect decline across disease stages and that are functionally and clinically relevant.
To quantify macrostructural and microstructural changes in participants with premanifest and symptomatic Huntington's disease over 30 months, and to establish their functional and clinical relevance.
Multimodal magnetic resonance imaging study measuring changes in macrostructural (volume) and microstructural (diffusivity) measures in 40 patients with premanifest Huntington's disease, 36 patients with symptomatic Huntington's disease and 36 healthy control participants over three testing sessions spanning 30 months.
Relative to controls, there was greater longitudinal atrophy in participants with symptomatic Huntington's disease in whole brain, grey matter, caudate and putamen, as well as increased caudate fractional anisotropy; caudate volume loss was the only measure to differ between premanifest Huntington's disease and control groups. Changes in caudate volume and fractional anisotropy correlated with each other and neurocognitive decline; caudate volume loss also correlated with clinical and disease severity.
Caudate neurodegeneration, especially atrophy, may be the most suitable candidate surrogate biomarker for consideration in the development of upcoming clinical trials.