IJCNMH ARCpublishing

Issue: Issue 3 (2016)

Review Article

Neuroimaging in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Magnetic resonance techniques

Débora Gonçalves, Andreia Costa, and Pedro Abreu
Objectives: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative motor neuron disease whose clinical presentation and evolution varies greatly among patients. The limited role of conventional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in ALS encourages the study of new advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques. Our aim was to review the advances of MRI techniques applied to ALS and to analyze their contribution to the knowledge and monitoring of this disease.
Methods: We performed a Pubmed® database search with the following MeSH terms: “Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis”, “Neuroimaging”, “Magnetic Resonance Imaging”. Articles from the last decade were preferentially included but previous important publications were added. 
Results: Sixty-eight articles were considered in our revision article. Imaging methods were categorized as structural, functional and metabolic and their usefulness in detecting ALS related damage in brain and spinal cord was evaluated. 
Conclusion: Advanced MRI techniques consistently prove that ALS is a multisystem disease, involving both motor and extra-motor neuronal areas. Primary motor cortex, corticospinal tract and corpus callosum are major regions involved, but several temporal, frontal and subcortical areas are also affected in ALS, as well as some neuronal networks related to sensoriomotor activity and cognition. Advanced neuroimaging techniques are providing a unique opportunity to study ALS and its underlying pathophysiology and disease course, which may enable the discovery of novel ALS drug targets.

Keywords: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Neuroimaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

International Journal of Clinical Neurosciences and Mental Health 2016; 3:5
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21035/ijcnmh.2016.3.5
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