Hippocampal morphology in Huntington's disease, implications for plasticity and pathogenesis: the IMAGE-HD study

Fiona A. Wilkes, David Jakabek, Mark Walterfang, Dennis Velakoulis, Govinda R. Poudel, Julie C. Stout, Phyllis Chua, Gary F. Egan, Jeffrey C.L. Looi, Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis

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While striatal changes in Huntington's Disease (HD) are well established, few studies have investigated changes in the hippocampus, a key neuronal hub. Using MRI scans obtained from the IMAGE-HD study, hippocampi were manually traced and then analysed with the Spherical Harmonic Point Distribution Method (SPHARM-PDM) in 36 individuals with presymptomatic-HD, 37 with early symptomatic-HD, and 36 healthy matched controls. There were no significant differences in overall hippocampal volume between groups. Interestingly we found decreased bilateral hippocampal volume in people with symptomatic-HD who took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors compared to those who did not, despite no significant differences in anxiety, depressive symptoms, or motor incapacity between the two groups. In symptomatic-HD, there was also significant shape deflation in the right hippocampal head, showing the utility of using manual tracing and SPHARM-PDM to characterise subtle shape changes which may be missed by other methods. This study confirms previous findings of the lack of hippocampal volumetric differentiation in presymptomatic-HD and symptomatic-HD compared to controls. We also find novel shape and volume findings in those with symptomatic-HD, especially in relation to decreased hippocampal volume in those treated with SSRIs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111694
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Depression
  • Hippocampus
  • Huntington's disease
  • SSRIs

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