Abnormal structural connectivity in progressive supranuclear palsy—Richardson syndrome



Progressive supranuclear palsy‐Richardson syndrome (PSP‐RS) is characterized by symmetrical parkinsonism with postural instability and frontal dysfunction. This study aims to use the whole brain structural connectome (SC) to gain insights into the underlying disconnectivity which may be implicated in the clinical features of PSP‐RS.


Sixteen patients of PSP‐RS and 12 healthy controls were recruited. Disease severity was quantified using PSP rating scale (PSPRS), and mini‐mental scale was applied to evaluate cognition. Thirty‐two direction diffusion MRIs were acquired and used to compute the structural connectome of the whole brain using deterministic fiber tracking. Group analyses were performed at the edge‐wise, nodal, and global levels. Age and gender were used as nuisance covariates for all the subsequent analyses, and FDR correction was applied.


Network‐based statistics revealed a 34‐edge network with significantly abnormal edge‐wise connectivity in the patient group. Of these, 25 edges were cortical connections, of which 68% were frontal connections. Abnormal deep gray matter connections were predominantly comprised of connections between structures of the basal ganglia. The characteristic path length of the SC was lower in PSP‐RS, and nodal analysis revealed abnormal degree, strength, local efficiency, betweenness centrality, and participation coefficient in several nodes.


Significant alterations in the structural connectivity of the whole brain connectome were observed in PSP‐RS. The higher degree of abnormality observed in nodes belonging to the frontal lobe and basal ganglia substantiates the predominant frontal dysfunction and parkinsonism observed in PSP‐RS. The findings of this study support the concept that PSP‐RS may be a network‐based disorder.

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