In Huntington's disease (HD), the presence of neurodegeneration in brain regions other than the striatum has been recently gaining attention. The amygdala is one such area, which has been investigated in only eight structural magnetic resonance imaging studies to date, but with inconsistent findings. This is the largest MRI study to date examining manually traced amygdala volumes in HD participants and the relationship of amygdala volumes to clinical measures of HD. Our study included 35 healthy control participants, and groups of 35 pre-symptomatic, and 36 symptomatic HD participants. When comparing the pre-symptomatic and symptomatic HD groups together against the control group, amygdala volumes were significantly lower in HD than controls and in symptomatic HD than pre-symptomatic HD. When examining relationships between amygdala volumes and clinical measures of HD, significantly smaller amygdala volumes were associated with worse motor and cognitive signs. For pre-symptomatic HD participants who were close to disease onset, smaller amygdala volumes were also associated with higher levels of anxiety symptoms. These findings suggest that the amygdala is affected in pre-symptomatic and symptomatic HD, and that the amygdala is related to the clinical profile of HD before onset of motor symptoms.
- Huntington's disease
- Volumetry MRI