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Objectives: Apathy is a debilitating symptom of Huntington’s disease (HD) and manifests before motor diagnosis, making it an excellent therapeutic target in the preclinical phase of Huntington’s disease (prHD). HD is a neurological genetic disorder characterized by cognitive and motor impairment, and psychiatric abnormalities. Apathy is not well characterized within the prHD. In previous literature, damage to the caudate and putamen has been correlated with increased apathy in other neurodegenerative and movement disorders. The objective of this study was to determine whether apathy severity in individuals with prHD is related to striatum volumes and cognitive control. We hypothesized that, within prHD individuals, striatum volumes and cognitive control scores would be related to apathy. Methods: We constructed linear mixed models to analyze striatum volumes and cognitive control, a composite measure that includes tasks assessing with apathy scores from 797 prHD participants. The outcome variable for each model was apathy, and the independent variables for the four separate models were caudate volume, putamen volume, cognitive control score, and motor symptom score. We also included depression as a covariate to ensure that our results were not solely related to mood. Results: Caudate and putamen volumes, as well as measures of cognitive control, were significantly related to apathy scores even after controlling for depression. Conclusions: The behavioral apathy expressed by these individuals was related to regions of the brain commonly associated with isolated apathy, and not a direct result of mood symptoms. (JINS, 2019, 25, 462–469)
Objectives: Huntington’s disease (HD) is a debilitating genetic disorder characterized by motor, cognitive and psychiatric abnormalities associated with neuropathological decline. HD pathology is the result of an extended chain of CAG (cytosine, adenine, guanine) trinucleotide repetitions in the HTT gene. Clinical diagnosis of HD requires the presence of an otherwise unexplained extrapyramidal movement disorder in a participant at risk for HD. Over the past 15 years, evidence has shown that cognitive, psychiatric, and subtle motor dysfunction is evident decades before traditional motor diagnosis. This study examines the relationships among subcortical brain volumes and measures of emerging disease phenotype in prodromal HD, before clinical diagnosis. Methods: The dataset includes 34 cognitive, motor, psychiatric, and functional variables and five subcortical brain volumes from 984 prodromal HD individuals enrolled in the PREDICT HD study. Using cluster analyses, seven distinct clusters encompassing cognitive, motor, psychiatric, and functional domains were identified. Individual cluster scores were then regressed against the subcortical brain volumetric measurements. Results: Accounting for site and genetic burden (the interaction of age and CAG repeat length) smaller caudate and putamen volumes were related to clusters reflecting motor symptom severity, cognitive control, and verbal learning. Conclusions: Variable reduction of the HD phenotype using cluster analysis revealed biologically related domains of HD and are suitable for future research with this population. Our cognitive control cluster scores show sensitivity to changes in basal ganglia both within and outside the striatum that may not be captured by examining only motor scores. (JINS, 2017, 23, 159–170)
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