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Anatomic characterization of prelemniscal radiations by probabilistic tractography: implications in Parkinson’s disease


To characterize the anatomical connectivity of the prelemniscal radiations (Raprl), a white matter region within the posterior subthalamic area (PSA) that is an effective neurosurgical target for treating motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Diffusion-weighted images were acquired from twelve healthy subjects using a 3T scanner. Constrained spherical deconvolution, a method that allows the distinction of crossing fibers within a voxel, was used to compute track-density images with sufficient resolution to accurately delineate distinct PSA regions and probabilistic tractography of Raprl in both hemispheres. Raprl connectivity was reproducible across all subjects and showed fibers traversing through this region towards primary and supplementary motor cortices, the orbitofrontal cortex, ventrolateral thalamus, and the globus pallidus, cerebellum and dorsal brainstem. All brain regions reached by Raprl fibers are part of motor circuits involved in the pathophysiology of PD; while these fiber systems converge at the level of the PSA, they can be spatially segregated. Fibers of distinct and specific motor control networks are identified within Raprl. The description of this anatomical crossroad suggests that, in the future, tractography could allow deep brain stimulation or lesional therapies in white matter targets according to individual patient’s symptoms.

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    Care must be taken when studying the available literature, as there are historical discrepancies between studies on the nomenclature of DBS and lesions of the subthalamic and posterior subthalamic areas, and on occasions there is insufficient data to prove that DBS is targeting either region exclusively.


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The authors are extremely grateful to participants for their cooperation given. We thank Dr. Laura Chávez Macias and Dr. Monica Madrazo for research assistance, and Dr. Dorothy Pless for proofreading and editing. We thank Dr. Erick Pasaye Alcaraz, Juan Ortiz and the personnel of the Magnetic Resonance Unit for technical assistance. MGGG is a doctoral student from Programa de Doctorado en Ciencias Biomédicas at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and received fellowship 275789 from the National Council of Science and Technology in Mexico (CONACyT). This work was supported by the National Council of Science and Technology in Mexico (CONACyT) from Grant 0114218-2009.

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Correspondence to Luis Concha.

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F. Velasco-Campos and L. Concha have contributed equally to this work.

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García-Gomar, M.G., Soto-Abraham, J., Velasco-Campos, F. et al. Anatomic characterization of prelemniscal radiations by probabilistic tractography: implications in Parkinson’s disease. Brain Struct Funct 222, 71–81 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-016-1201-5

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  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Prelemnsical radiations
  • Constrained spherical deconvolution
  • Track-density images
  • Probabilistic tractography