In our recent publication, we analyze cortical microstructure in frontotemporal dementia

The behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia is a neurodegenerative syndrome characterized by a progressive personality change. Given that patients maintain their cognitive abilities relatively intact in the early stages of the disease, the diagnosis requires both a thorough clinical evaluation and biomarkers to support the diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease.

Ignacio Illán Gala and Victor Montal Blancafort in collaboration with other researchers from the Sant Pau Memory Unit (Hospital de Sant Pau), the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona and the Memory and Aging Center (San Francisco, USA) have just published their work entitled “Cortical microstructure in the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia: looking beyond atrophy” in the prestigious journal Brain.

What has been done in this study?

In this work, the neuroimaging technique cortical mean diffusivity is evaluated for the diagnosis of patients with the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia. Specifically, 148 participants with an available magnetic resonance imaging study were recruited at different centers from Barcelona and San Francisco.

Main results

Mean cortical diffusivity showed more sensitivity than cortical thickness to detect the first cortical changes in patients with behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia even in cases without cortical atrophy.

Illan-Gala-Montal-cortical microstructure cortical - frontotemporal dementia - Brain 2019

Relevance of the study

The behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia is frequently misdiagnosed and underecognized, especially in those cases without evident cortical atrophy, which account for up to a third of cases. Our work describes a valuable imaging tool for the study of this and other neurodegenerative syndromes.

More information:

Cortical microstructure in the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia: looking beyond atrophy. Illan-Gala & Montal et al. Brain 2019

This study is the result of the collaboration of the CATFI consortium (Catalan Initiative for Frontotemporal Dementia), led by Dr. Alberto Lleó and in which the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, the Hospital Clínic and the Arnau de Vilanova Hospital participate. The objective of the CATFI initiative is the development of new diagnostic methods and therapeutic approaches for patients with frontotemporal dementia. Although this initiative has funding until the end of 2019, it is a priority for those responsible to obtain new funding sources beyond this date to continue progressing in their goal.

Brain - Illan - Sant Pau Memory Unit - Barcelona - Illustration by Carles Esquembre
This illustration, specifically designed for this article by Carles Esquembre, has been selected to be the cover of this number of the Brain journal.

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