The merit of proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the longitudinal assessment of spinocerebellar ataxias and multiple system atrophy-cerebellar type
Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) and multiple system atrophy-cerebellar type (MSA-C) often present with similar clinical manifestations in the beginning. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) has been proved to be a useful tool to help differentiate different types of SCA and MSA-C on cross-sectional studies.
However, longitudinal changes of the MRS metabolites in these subjects have never been reported. The purpose of this study was to track the longitudinal evolution of the MRS metabolites in these patients and to ascertain the correlation between clinical severity measured by Scale of the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA) and MRS metabolites.
Significant reductions of NAA/Cr and NAA/Cho in the cerebellar hemispheres in all patients and lower Cho/Cr in the cerebellar hemispheres in patients with SCA2 or MSA-C were found at all times.
At initial assessments, patients with MSA-C or SCA2 tended to have lower NAA/Cr and Cho/Cr in the cerebellar hemispheres than those with SCA3 or SCA6. At follow-ups, patients with SCA2 or MSA-C had a lower NAA/Cr in cerebellar hemispheres than those with SCA3 or SCA6.
Patients with MSA-C had a lower NAA/Cr in the vermis and Cho/Cr in the cerebellar hemispheres than those with SCA2 at the start, and had a lower NAA/Cr in cerebellar hemispheres than those with SCA2 at follow-ups.
Characteristic patterns of neurodegenerative evolution were observed in patients with disparate SCAs and MSA-C using MRS and SARA. A continual impairment of neuronal integrity was observed in all groups of patients.
The longitudinal changes of MRS metabolites and SARA scores were most striking in patients with SCA2 and MSA-C. Although the changes in the metabolites on MRS may still be used to help understand the pathophysiology of ataxia disorders, they are short of being a good biomarker.