Interhemispheric motor networks are abnormal in patients with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome

Tobias Bäumer, Götz Thomalla, Johan Kroeger, Melanie Jonas, Christian Gerloff, Friedhelm Christoph Hummel, Kirsten Müller-Vahl, Alfons Schnitzler, Hartwig Roman Siebner, Michael Orth, Alexander Münchau
Movement Disorders: Official Journal of the Movement Disorder Society 2010 December 15, 25 (16): 2828-37
Brain imaging has shown altered corpus callosum (CC) morphology in patients with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS). Yet it is unclear whether these morphological changes are associated with altered interhemispheric interactions. Here, we combined transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) with diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTI) to explore functional and structural interhemispheric connections between the left and right motor hand areas. We studied 14 unmedicated GTS patients without psychiatric comorbidity (2 women, mean age 35.5 years) and 15 healthy volunteers (3 women, mean age 35 years). Left-to-right and right-to-left interhemispheric inhibitions (IHIs) were measured in hand muscles with TMS. In 13 GTS patients and all healthy controls, we measured fractional anisotropy (FA) with DTI to examine the relation between functional measures of interhemispheric connectivity as derived by TMS and structural properties of the CC region that carries fibers interconnecting both motor cortices. In GTS patients, left-to-right IHI was weaker than right-to-left IHI. Left-to-right IHI in GTS patients was also reduced compared with healthy controls. Voxel-based morphometric analysis revealed that FA in the motor region of the CC did not differ between groups. However, there was a significant interaction between groups and the relation between regional FA and left-to-right IHI in the motor region of the CC. A negative linear relation between FA and left-to-right IHI was present in control subjects but not in patients. Our combined TMS-DTI approach demonstrates abnormal functional interhemispheric connectivity in GTS accompanied by an altered structure-function relationship in the motor CC.

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