Elucidating the Nature and Mechanism of Tic Improvement in Tourette Syndrome: A Pilot Study
Background: For unclear reasons, many Tourette syndrome (TS) children report near‐complete tic remission by young adulthood. Immature maturation of brain networks, observed with resting‐state functional MRI (rs‐fc‐MRI) in adolescents and adults with TS, might evolve to a mature pattern in adults who experience tic improvement or remission. We explored the feasibility of testing this hypothesis in our population of young adult TS males, each with prior clinical assessments completed during childhood as part of a separate TS Association Genetics Consortium study.
Methods: A total of 10 TS males (off tic suppressing drugs for at least 6 months) aged 19–32 years, mean follow‐up interval 7.5 (2 to 13) years, and 11 neurologically normal controls were enrolled and underwent 3‐Tesla structural and rs‐fc‐MRI sequences.
Results: The mean change in Yale Global Tic Severity Scale (YGTSS) was −31.5% (total) and −26.6% (YGTSS motor+vocal). Two subjects reported resolution of tic‐related disability, with drops from mean 45 to 16.5 (YGTSS‐total) and 25 to 11.5 (YGTSS motor+vocal.). Rs‐fc‐MRI revealed significantly increased connectivity between the ipsilateral anterior and mid cingulate cortex and striatum, increased connectivity between local connections, and decreased connectivity between more distant connections; representing an immature connectivity pattern.
Discussion: Similar to previous reports, we found immature patterns of functional connectivity in adult TS subjects. Despite a lack of complete tic remission, two subjects exhibited dramatic drops in tic severity that correlated with tic‐related disability improvement. More work is needed to elucidate the mechanism of such dramatic improvement in TS.