Neuroimaging in primary lateral sclerosis

Erik P. Pioro*, Martin R. Turner, Peter Bede

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Increased interest in the underlying pathogenesis of primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) and its relationship to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has corresponded to a growing number of CNS imaging studies, especially in the past decade. Both its rarity and uncertainty of definite diagnosis prior to 4 years from symptom onset have resulted in PLS being less studied than ALS. In this review, we highlight most relevant papers applying magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), and positron emission tomography (PET) to analyzing CNS changes in PLS, often in relation to ALS. In patients with PLS, mostly brain, but also spinal cord has been evaluated since significant neurodegeneration is essentially restricted to upper motor neuron (UMN) structures and related pathways. Abnormalities of cortex and subcortical white matter tracts have been identified by structural and functional MRI and MRS studies, while metabolic and cell-specific changes in PLS brain have been revealed using various PET radiotracers. Future neuroimaging studies will continue to explore the interface between the PLS-ALS continuum, identify more changes unique to PLS, apply novel MRI and MRS sequences showing greater structural and neurochemical detail, as well as expand the repertoire of PET radiotracers that reveal various cellular pathologies. Neuroimaging has the potential to play an important role in the evaluation of novel therapies for patients with PLS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-27
Number of pages10
JournalAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Imaging
  • MRI
  • PET
  • spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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