Symptoms of Frontotemporal Dementia are primarily identified as the source of movement

Symptoms of Frontotemporal Dementia are primarily identified as the source of movement ...

According to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland, frontotemporal dementia patients with extrapyramidal symptoms have brainstem atrophy and reduced metabolism in certain areas of the brain significantly more often than patients with extrapyramidal symptoms. This observation can aid differential diagnosis in frontotemporal dementia.

FTD, a term used for degenerative brain diseases, has been used to diagnose behaviour and cognition. In some cases, FTD comes with extrapyramidal symptoms, such as those in Parkinsons disease. However, a recent study suggests that accurate brain imaging and analysis may allow to distinguish between FTD and other disorders.

Extrapyramidal symptoms are often associated with tremors, stiffness, and decreased facial expressions, as well as manual movements, which are often associated with frontotemporal dementia. Atypical parkinsonism is now categorized into two categories: the most common variant with behavioural impairment as an early symptom, and the rarer primary progressive aphasia (PPA) with speech problems.

The condition of neurodegeneration associated with progressive memory disorders is typically described in two ways: a magnetic resonance imaging of the brain provides accurate information about brain structures and volumes of the various components of the brain, whereas a positron emission tomography, or a PET scan, provides information on metabolism in different tissues of the brain. Degeneration of the brain tissue is often preceded by a slow or missing metabolism.

The researchers reviewed 139 patients with frontotemporal dementia, PSP, and CBD, focusing on their diagnosis and the presence of extrapyramidal symptoms. MRI and PET photographs were taken using automated analysis software.

Patients with extrapyramidal symptoms had atrophy of the basal ganglia in the midbrain, as well as the brainstem. PET imaging examined patients with extrapyramidal symptoms found that brainstem atrophy significantly more often than those with extrapyramidal symptoms.

For the first time, the study found that significant structural and metabolic differences in frontotemporal dementia patients could be detected in the brain, comparable to those who were absent from these symptoms.

Alternatively, these findings may be used in early diagnostics to distinguish between frontotemporal dementia and Parkinson''s disease, according to Doctoral ResearcherSami Heikkinen, the main author of the article.

Although treatment of these diseases is currently symptomatic, a rapid and precise diagnosis is an important step towards the development of disease modifying therapies.

The study was undertaken in a research group on Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration and Early Onset Dementia, led by Adjunct ProfessorEino Solje.

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