Corticospinal tract and related grey matter morphometric shape analysis in als phenotypes: A fractal dimension study

Venkateswaran Rajagopalan, Erik P. Pioro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A pathological hallmark of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is corticospinal tract (CST) degeneration resulting in upper motor neuron (UMN) dysfunction. No quantitative test is available to easily assess UMN pathways. Brain neuroimaging in ALS promises to potentially change this through identifying biomarkers of UMN dysfunction that may accelerate diagnosis and track disease progression. Fractal dimension (FD) has successfully been used to quantify brain grey matter (GM) and white matter (WM) shape complexity in various neurological disorders. Therefore, we investigated CST and whole brain GM and WM morphometric changes using FD analyses in ALS patients with different phenotypes. We hypothesized that FD would detect differences between ALS patients and neurologic controls and even between the ALS subgroups. Neuroimaging was performed in neurologic controls (n = 14), and ALS patients (n = 75). ALS patients were assigned into four groups based on their clinical or radiographic phenotypes. FD values were estimated for brain WM and GM structures. Patients with ALS and frontotemporal dementia (ALS-FTD) showed significantly higher CST FD values and lower primary motor and sensory cortex GM FD values compared to other ALS groups. No other group of ALS patients revealed significant FD value changes when compared to neurologic controls or with other ALS patient groups. These findings support a more severe disease process in ALS-FTD patients compared to other ALS patient groups. FD value measures may be a sensitive index to evaluate GM and WM (including CST) degeneration in ALS patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number371
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Corticospinal tract
  • Fractal dimension
  • Grey matter
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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