JOURNAL ARTICLE

Altered intrahemispheric structural connectivity in Gilles de la Tourette syndrome

Bastian Cheng, Hanna Braass, Christos Ganos, Andras Treszl, Katja Biermann-Ruben, Friedhelm C Hummel, Kirsten Müller-Vahl, Alfons Schnitzler, Christian Gerloff, Alexander Münchau, Götz Thomalla
NeuroImage: Clinical 2014, 4: 174-81
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Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS) is a common developmental neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by tics and frequent psychiatric comorbidities, often causing significant disability. Tic generation has been linked to disturbed networks of brain areas involved in planning, controlling and execution of actions, particularly structural and functional disorders in the striatum and cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical loops. We therefore applied structural diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to characterize changes in intrahemispheric white matter connectivity in cortico-subcortical circuits engaged in motor control in 15 GTS patients without psychiatric comorbidities. White matter connectivity was analyzed by probabilistic fiber tractography between 12 predefined cortical and subcortical regions of interest. Connectivity values were combined with measures of clinical severity rated by the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale (YGTSS). GTS patients showed widespread structural connectivity deficits. Lower connectivity values were found specifically in tracts connecting the supplementary motor areas (SMA) with basal ganglia (pre-SMA-putamen, SMA-putamen) and in frontal cortico-cortical circuits. There was an overall trend towards negative correlations between structural connectivity in these tracts and YGTSS scores. Structural connectivity of frontal brain networks involved in planning, controlling and executing actions is reduced in adult GTS patients which is associated with tic severity. These findings are in line with the concept of GTS as a neurodevelopmental disorder of brain immaturity.

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