To confirm the hypothesis that brain white matter damage is involved in the pathogenesis and disease progression of Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH)-associated neurodegenerative disease (ND), we aimed to analyze pediatric patients with LCH using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
We enrolled 33 patients with LCH and obtained 33 DTI datasets. Using DTI-based tractography, fractional anisotropy (FA), apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD) were measured in the cerebral and cerebellar white matter tracts. The participants were divided into three groups—non-ND, ND without clinical symptoms (r-ND), and ND with clinical symptoms (c-ND)—according to their clinical status during the examination with DTI. We compared the DTI parameters in white matter tracts were compared among the three groups.
In the order of non-ND, r-ND, and c-ND groups, the FA in superior cerebellar peduncle (SCP) and middle cerebellar peduncle (MCP) significantly decreased, the ADC, AD, and RD of MCP, and the RD of SCP were significantly elevated (FA-SCP; p < 0.001, FA-MCP; p = 0.026, ADC-MCP; p < 0.001, AD-MCP; p = 0.002, RD-MCP; p = 0.003, and RD-SCP; p = 0.018). Furthermore, in the simple linear regression analysis, the FA, ADC, AD, and RD values in the MCP and the FA value in the SCP were significantly influenced by the presence of neurological symptoms and ND findings on MRI (all p < 0.001).
In LCH-ND, we identified microstructural damage in the SCP and MCP. DTI parameters in these tracts may help monitor LCH-ND; therefore, future studies are required to validate these results in a large cohort.