Supplementary Material for: Brain Structure in Preclinical Huntington's Disease: A Multi-Method Approach

<b><i>Background:</i></b> Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain could be a powerful tool for discovering early biomarkers in clinically presymptomatic carriers of the Huntington's disease gene mutation (preHD). So far, structural changes have been found mainly in preHD approaching the estimated motor onset of the disease (i.e. less than 15 years from onset), whereas structural findings in preHD far from the estimated motor onset have been inconclusive. <b><i>Objectives:</i></b> The aims of this study were to investigate the sensitivity of different methodological approaches to structural data in far-from-onset preHD (mean estimated time to motor onset = 21.4 years) and to explore the relationship between brain structure, clinical variables and cognition. <b><i>Methods:</i></b> High-resolution MRI data at 3 T were obtained from 20 preHD individuals and 20 healthy participants and subsequently analyzed using voxel-based morphometry (VBM), cortical surface modeling and subcortical segmentation analysis techniques. <b><i>Results:</i></b> VBM analyses did not reveal significant between-group differences, whereas cortical surface modeling and subcortical segmentation analyses showed significant regional cortical thinning and striatal changes in preHD compared to controls. Significant correlations were found between striatal structure, estimated time to motor onset and executive performance, whereas cortical changes were not significantly correlated with these parameters. <b><i>Conclusion:</i></b> These data suggest that a combined methodological approach to structural MRI data could increase the sensitivity for detecting subtle neurobiological changes in early preHD. As consistently shown across different methods, the association between striatal structure and clinical measures supports the notion that changes in striatal volume could represent a more robust marker of disease progression than cortical changes.