Comparative analysis of freezing of gait in distinct Parkinsonism types by diffusion tensor imaging method and cognitive profiles

Onder H., Oguz K. K., Has A. C., ELİBOL B.

Journal of Neural Transmission, vol.130, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 130
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00702-023-02608-7
  • Journal Name: Journal of Neural Transmission
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Psycinfo, Veterinary Science Database
  • Keywords: Freezing of gait, Diffusion tensor imaging, Parkinson's disease, Neuropsychological assessments, PPN, Pathophysiology, Progressive supranuclear palsy
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Freezing of gait (FOG) is an episodic gait pattern that is common in advanced Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other atypical parkinsonism syndromes. Recently, disturbances in the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) and its connections have been suggested to play a critical role in the development of FOG. In this study, we aimed to demonstrate possible disturbances in PPN and its connections by performing the diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) technique. We included 18 patients of PD with FOG [PD-FOG], 13 patients of PD without FOG [PD-nFOG] and 12 healthy subjects as well as a group of patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), an atypical parkinsonism syndrome which is very often complicated with FOG [6 PSP-FOG, 5 PSP-nFOG]. To determine the specific cognitive parameters that can be related to FOG, deliberate neurophysiological evaluations of all the individuals were performed. The comparative analyses and correlation analyses were performed to reveal the neurophysiological and DTI correlates of FOG in either group. We have found disturbances in values reflecting microstructural integrity of the bilateral superior frontal gyrus (SFG), bilateral fastigial nucleus (FN), left pre-supplementary motor area (SMA) in the PD-FOG group relative to the PD-nFOG group. The analysis of the PSP group also demonstrated disturbance in left pre-SMA values in the PSP-FOG group likewise, while negative correlations were determined between right STN, left PPN values and FOG scores. In neurophysiological assessments, lower performances for visuospatial functions were demonstrated in FOG (+) individuals for either patient group. The disturbances in the visuospatial abilities may be a critical step for the occurrence of FOG. Together with the results of DTI analyses, it might be suggested that impairment in the connectivity of disturbed frontal areas with disordered basal ganglia, maybe the key factor for the occurrence of FOG in the PD group, whereas left PPN which is a nondopaminergic nucleus may play a more prominent role in the process of FOG in PSP. Moreover, our results support the relationship between right STN, and FOG as mentioned before, as well as introduce the importance of FN as a new structure that may be involved in FOG pathogenesis.