Motor associations of iron accumulation in deep grey matter nuclei in Parkinson's disease: a cross-sectional study of iron-related magnetic resonance imaging susceptibility.

08 Jun 2018

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: To determine whether iron deposition in deep brain nuclei assessed using high-pass filtered phase imaging plays a role in motor disease severity in Parkinson's disease (PD). METHODS: Seventy patients with mild to moderate PD and 20 age- and gender-matched healthy volunteers (HVs) underwent susceptibility-weighted imaging on a 3 T magnetic resonance imaging scanner. Phase shifts (radians) in deep brain nuclei were derived from high-pass filtered phase images and compared between groups. Analysis of clinical laterality and correlations with motor severity (Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale, Part III, UPDRS-III) were performed. Phase shifts (in radians) were compared between HVs and three PD subgroups divided according to UPDRS-III scores using analysis of covariance, adjusting for age and regional area. RESULTS: Parkinson's disease patients had significantly (P < 0.001) higher radians than HVs bilaterally in the putamen, globus pallidus and substantia nigra (SN). The SN contralateral to the most affected side showed higher radians (P < 0.001) compared to the less affected side. SN radians positively correlated with UPDRS-III and bradykinesia-rigidity subscores, but not with tremor subscores. ancova followed by post hoc Bonferroni-adjusted pairwise comparisons revealed that SN radians were significantly greater in the PD subgroup with higher UPDRS-III scores compared to both lowest UPDRS-III PD and HV groups (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Increased nigral iron accumulation in PD appears to be stratified according to disease motor severity and correlates with symptoms related to dopaminergic neurodegeneration. This semi-quantitative in vivo iron assessment could prove useful for objectively monitoring PD progression, especially in clinical trials concerning iron chelation therapies.