Detailed volumetric analysis of the hypothalamus in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia

Martina Bocchetta, Elizabeth Gordon, Emily Manning, Josephine Barnes, David M. Cash, Miklos Espak, David L. Thomas, Marc Modat, Martin N. Rossor, Jason D. Warren, Sebastien Ourselin, Giovanni B. Frisoni, Jonathan D. Rohrer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abnormal eating behaviors are frequently reported in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). The hypothalamus is the regulatory center for feeding and satiety but its involvement in bvFTD has not been fully clarified, partly due to its difficult identification on MR images. We measured hypothalamic volume in 18 patients with bvFTD (including 9 MAPT and 6 C9orf72 mutation carriers) and 18 cognitively normal controls using a novel optimized multimodal segmentation protocol, combining 3D T1 and T2-weighted 3T MRIs (intrarater intraclass correlation coefficients ≥0.93). The whole hypothalamus was subsequently segmented into five subunits: the anterior (superior and inferior), tuberal (superior and inferior), and posterior regions. The presence of abnormal eating behavior was assessed with the revised version of the Cambridge Behavioural Inventory (CBI-R). The bvFTD group showed a 17 % lower hypothalamic volume compared with controls (p 3 (corrected for total intracranial volume). In the hypothalamic subunit analysis, the superior parts of the anterior and tuberal regions and the posterior region were significantly smaller in the bvFTD group compared with controls. There was a trend for a smaller hypothalamic volume, particularly in the superior tuberal region, in those with severe eating disturbance scores on the CBI-R. Differences were seen between the two genetic subgroups with significantly smaller volumes in the MAPT but not the C9orf72 group compared with controls. In summary, bvFTD patients had lower hypothalamic volumes compared with controls. Different genetic mutations may have a differential impact on the hypothalamus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2635-2642
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Eating disorders
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Hypothalamus
  • Volumetric MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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