BACKGROUND : Rest tremor is a hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD), but its pathogenesis remains incompletely understood. Nigro-striatal dopamine deficiency correlates best with bradykinesia, but not with tremor. Oscillating neurons in one or multiple localizations within the basal gangliathalamo- cortical loop may cause rest tremor, and an active contribution of the cerebellum and the cerebello-thalamo-cortical projections has been postulated.
OBJECTIVE : To compare the pattern of grey matter volume in PD patients with and without tremor to identify structural correlates of rest tremor.
METHODS : Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) of a high-resolution 3 Tesla, T1-weighted MR images, pre-processed according to an optimized protocol using SPM2, was performed in 24 patients with mild to moderate PD comparing local grey matter volume in patients with (n = 14) and without rest tremor (n = 10).
RESULTS : Grey matter volume is decreased in the right quadrangular lobe and declive of the cerebellum in PD with tremor compared to those without (PFDR < 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS : These results demonstrate for the first time morphological changes in the cerebellum in PD patients with rest tremor and highlight the involvement of the cerebellum and cerebello-thalamo-cortical circuit in the pathogenesis of parkinsonian rest tremor.