Purpose 'Phenocopy' frontotemporal dementia (phFTD) patients may clinically mimic the behavioral variant of FTD (bvFTD), but do not show functional decline or abnormalities upon visual inspection of routine neuroimaging. We aimed to identify abnormalities in gray matter (GM) volume and perfusion in phFTD and to assess whether phFTD belongs to the FTD spectrum. We compared phFTD patients with both healthy controls and bvFTD patients. Materials & methods Seven phFTD and 11 bvFTD patients, and 20 age-matched controls underwent structural T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and 3D pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling (pCASL) at 3T. Normalized GM (nGM) volumes and perfusion, corrected for partial volume effects, were quantified regionally as well as in the entire supratentorial cortex, and compared between groups taking into account potential confounding effects of gender and scanner. Results PhFTD patients showed cortical atrophy, most prominently in the right temporal lobe. Apart from this regional atrophy, GM volume was generally not different from either controls or from bvFTD. BvFTD however showed extensive frontotemporal atrophy. Perfusion was increased in the left prefrontal cortex compared to bvFTD and to a lesser extent to controls. Conclusion PhFTD and bvFTD show overlapping cortical structural abnormalities indicating a continuum of changes especially in the frontotemporal regions. Together with functional changes suggestive of a compensatory response to incipient pathology in the left prefrontal regions, these findings are the first to support a possible neuropathological etiology of phFTD and suggest that phFTD may be a neurodegenerative disease on the FTD spectrum.

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Keywords Arterial spin labeling-MRI, Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia, Cerebral blood flow, Gray matter volume, Phenocopy frontotemporal dementia
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2016.03.019, hdl.handle.net/1765/86708
Journal NeuroImage: Clinical
Steketee, R.M.E, Meijboom, R, Bron, E.E, Osse, R.J, de Koning, I, Jiskoot, L.C, … Smits, M. (2016). Structural and functional brain abnormalities place phenocopy frontotemporal dementia (FTD) in the FTD spectrum. NeuroImage: Clinical, 11, 595–605. doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2016.03.019