Predictive Modeling of Huntington's Disease Unfolds Thalamic and Caudate Atrophy Dissociation
Background: Atrophy in the striatum is a hallmark of Huntington's disease (HD), including the period before clinical motor diagnosis (before-CMD), but it extends to other subcortical structures. The study of the covariation of these structures could improve the detection of disease-related longitudinal progression before-CMD, provide mechanistic insights of the disease, and potentially be used to obtain accurate prospective estimates of atrophy before-CMD and early after-CMD. Methods: We analyzed data from 337 before-CMD individuals, 236 healthy control subjects, and 95 early after-CMD individuals from three studies, and we used nine subcortical regions volumes in two analyses. First, we discriminated before-CMD from healthy control trajectories by integrating volume changes from these regions. Second, we estimated prospective atrophy before-CMD and early after-CMD by considering the influence of a region's present volume over the future volume of another one. Results: Before-CMD progression was robustly detected across studies. Indeed, detection of before-CMD progression improved when multiple structures were integrated, as opposed to analyzing the striatum alone, likely because of the reduced partial correlation between caudate and thalamic volume change before-CMD. Our multivariate atrophy prediction model found a thalamus–caudate association that is consistent with this pattern, which yields an improved caudate atrophy prediction in early after-CMD. Conclusions: This study is the first attempt to validate before-CMD multivariate subcortical change detection across studies and to do multivariate prospective atrophy prediction in HD. These models achieve improved performance by detecting a dissociation between caudate and thalamic atrophy trajectories, and they provide a possible mechanistic understanding of the dynamics of HD. © 2022 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.