Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies in early Parkinson's disease (PD) have shown promise in the detection of disease-related brain changes in the white and deep grey matter. We set out to establish whether intrinsic cortical involvement in early PD can be detected with quantitative MRI. We collected a rich, multi-modal dataset, including diffusion MRI, T1 relaxometry and cortical morphometry, in 20 patients with early PD (disease duration, 1.9 ± 0.97 years, Hoehn & Yahr 1-2) and in 19 matched controls. The cortex was reconstructed using FreeSurfer. Data analysis employed linked independent component analysis (ICA), a novel data-driven technique that allows for data fusion and extraction of multi-modal components before further analysis. For comparison, we performed standard uni-modal analysis with a general linear model (GLM). Linked ICA detected multi-modal cortical changes in early PD (p = 0.015). These comprised fractional anisotropy reduction in dorsolateral prefrontal, cingulate and premotor cortex and the superior parietal lobule, mean diffusivity increase in the mesolimbic, somatosensory and superior parietal cortex, sparse diffusivity decrease in lateral parietal and right prefrontal cortex, and sparse changes to the cortex area. In PD, the amount of cortical dysintegrity correlated with diminished cognitive performance. Importantly, uni-modal analysis detected no significant group difference on any imaging modality. We detected microstructural cortical pathology in early PD using a data-driven, multi-modal approach. This pathology is correlated with diminished cognitive performance. Our results indicate that early degenerative processes leave an MRI signature in the cortex of patients with early PD. The cortical imaging findings are behaviourally meaningful and provide a link between cognitive status and microstructural cortical pathology in patients with early PD.
Parkinson's disease, cerebral cortex, cognitive function, diffusion MRI, independent component analysis (ICA), Aging, Cerebral Cortex, Cognitive Dysfunction, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Parkinson Disease