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Neuromelanin magnetic resonance imaging of locus ceruleus and substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease

Sasaki, Makotoa; Shibata, Eria; Tohyama, Koujirob; Takahashi, Junkoc; Otsuka, Kotarod; Tsuchiya, Kuniakie; Takahashi, Satoshic; Ehara, Shigerua; Terayama, Yasuoc; Sakai, Akiod

doi: 10.1097/01.wnr.0000227984.84927.a7
Brain Imaging

We carried out an investigation to identify neuromelanin-containing noradrenergic and dopaminergic neurons in the locus ceruleus and substantia nigra pars compacta of healthy volunteers and patients with Parkinson's disease using a newly developed magnetic resonance imaging technique that can demonstrate neuromelanin-related contrast. The high-resolution neuromelanin images obtained by a 3-T scanner revealed high signal areas in the brain stem and these corresponded well with the location of the locus ceruleus and substantia nigra pars compacta in gross specimens. In Parkinson's disease patients, the signal intensity in the locus ceruleus and substantia nigra pars compacta was greatly reduced, suggesting depletion of neuromelanin-containing neurons. We conclude that neuromelanin magnetic resonance imaging can be used for direct visualization of the locus ceruleus and substantia nigra pars compacta, and may help in detecting pathological changes in Parkinson's disease and related disorders.

aDepartment of Radiology

bCenter for EM and Bio-Imaging Research/Neuroanatomy

Departments of cNeurology

dPsychiatry, Iwate Medical University, Morioka and

eDepartment of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Metropolitan Matsuzawa Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

Correspondence and requests for reprints to Makoto Sasaki, MD, Department of Radiology, Iwate Medical University, 19-1 Uchimaru, Morioka 020-8505, Japan

Tel: +81 19 651 5111; fax: +81 19 622 1091; e-mail: masasaki@iwate-med.ac.jp

Sponsorship: This work was partly supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Advanced Medical Science Research and a Grant-in-Aid for Science Research (17591290) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.

Received 24 April 2006; accepted 12 May 2006

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.