Evolution of structural neuroimaging biomarkers in a series of adult patients with Niemann-Pick type C under treatment

Marion Masingue, Isaac Adanyeguh, Yann Nadjar, Frédéric Sedel, Damien Galanaud, Fanny Mochel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) disease is a lysosomal storage disorder characterized by a wide clinical spectrum and non-specific conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) signs. As substrate reduction therapy with miglustat is now used in almost all patients, its efficacy and the course of the disease are sometimes difficult to evaluate. Neuroimaging biomarkers could prove useful in this matter. We first performed a retrospective analysis of volumetric and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data on 13 adult NPC patients compared to 13 controls of similar age and sex. Eleven NPC patients were then studied using the same neuroimaging modalities over a mean of 5 years. The NPC composite score was used to evaluate disease severity. Results: NPC patients showed atrophy in basal ganglia - pallidum (p = 0.029), caudate nucleus (p = 0.022), putamen (p = 0.002) and thalamus (p < 0.001) - cerebral peduncles (p = 0.003) and corpus callosum (p = 0.006), compared to controls. NPC patients also displayed decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) in several regions of interest - corona radiata (p = 0.015), internal capsule (p = 0.007), corpus callosum (p = 0.032) and cingulate gyrus (p = 0.002) - as well as a broad increase in radial diffusivity (p < 0.001), compared to controls. Over time, 3 patients worsened clinically, including 2 patients who interrupted treatment, while 8 patients remained stable. With miglustat, no significant volumetric change was observed but FA improved after 2 years in the corpus callosum and the corona radiata of NPC patients (n = 4; p = 0.029) - although that was no longer observed at further time points. Conclusion: This is the first study conducted on a series of adult NPC patients using two neuroimaging modalities and followed under treatment. It confirmed that NPC patients displayed cerebral atrophy in several regions of interest compared to controls. Furthermore, miglustat showed an early effect on diffusion metrics in treated patients. DTI can detect brain microstructure alterations caused by neurometabolic dysfunction. Its potential as a biomarker in NPC shall be further evaluated in upcoming therapeutic trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalOrphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
MM was supported by the JNLF (Journées de Neurologie de langue Française). JNLF was not involved in the design of the study, nor in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and in writing the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


  • Biomarkers
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Miglustat
  • Neuroimaging
  • Niemann-Pick type C
  • Volumetry


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