Substantia Nigra Swelling and Dentate Nucleus T2 Hyperintensity May Be Early Magnetic Resonance Imaging Signs of β-Propeller Protein-Associated Neurodegeneration

Camilla Russo, Anna Ardissone, Elena Freri, Serena Gasperini, Marco Moscatelli, Giovanna Zorzi, Celeste Panteghini, Barbara Castellotti, Barbara Garavaglia, Nardo Nardocci, Luisa Chiapparini
Movement Disorders Clinical Practice 2019, 6 (1): 51-56

Background and Methods: Mutations in WDR45 cause β-propeller protein-associated neurodegeneration (BPAN), a type of neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA). We reviewed clinical and MRI findings in 4 patients with de novo WDR45 mutations.

Results: Psychomotor delay and movement disorders were present in all cases; early-onset epileptic encephalopathy was present in 3. In all cases, first MRI showed: prominent bilateral SN enlargement, bilateral dentate nuclei T2-hyperintensity, and corpus callosum thinning. Iron deposition in the SN and globus pallidus (GP) only became evident later. Diffuse cerebral atrophy was present in 3 cases.

Conclusions: In this series, SN swelling and dentate nucleus T2 hyperintensity were early signs of BPAN, later followed by progressive iron deposition in the SN and GP. When clinical suspicion is raised, MRI is crucial for identifying early features suggesting this type of NBIA.

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