Linear longitudinal decline in fractional anisotropy in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Preliminary results

Joshua Nickerson, Christopher J. Koski, Andrew C. Boyer, Heather N. Burbank, Rup Tandan, Christopher G. Filippi

14 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: : As potential therapies aimed at halting or slowing the decline in upper motor neuron function in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) are developed, a quantitative method for monitoring response will be necessary. Measurement of fractional anisotropy (FA) using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) over time should parallel functional decline from upper motor neuron degeneration in these patients. Patients and Methods: : Two patients with definite ALS were imaged at 3.0 T and FA values were obtained in the corticospinal tract every 3 months for 1 year. The FA values were compared to normal age-matched controls. Results: : Both patients showed linear decreases in FA values over time with R2 values ranging from 0.93 to 0.99. The decline became statistically significant over the course of the study. Qualitative decreases in anisotropy were also evident on FA maps. Conclusion: : If these trends can be validated in greater numbers of patients, DTI may serve as an objective quantitative biomarker for disease progression in patients with upper motor neuron disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-134
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Neuroradiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Fractional anisotropy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology

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