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Mov Disord. 2012 Jan;27(1):90-7. doi: 10.1002/mds.23917. Epub 2011 Aug 17.

Regional alterations of brain microstructure in Parkinson's disease using diffusion tensor imaging.

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Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging, Center of Imaging for Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.


This study tested the hypothesis that diffusion tensor imaging can detect alteration in microscopic integrity of white matter and basal ganglia regions known to be involved in Parkinson's disease (PD) pathology. It was also hypothesized that there is an association between diffusion abnormality and PD severity and subtype. Diffusion tensor imaging at 4 Tesla was obtained in 12 PD and 20 control subjects, and measures of fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity were evaluated using both region-of-interest and voxel-based methods. Movement deficits and subtypes in PD subjects were assessed using the Motor Subscale (Part III) of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale. Reduced fractional anisotropy (P < .05, corrected) was found in PD subjects in regions related to the precentral gyrus, substantia nigra, putamen, posterior striatum, frontal lobe, and the supplementary motor areas. Reduced fractional anisotropy in the substantia nigra correlated (P < .05, corrected) with the increased rating scale motor scores. Significant spatial correlations between fractional anisotropy alterations in the putamen and other PD-affected regions were also found in the context of PD subtypes index analysis. Our data suggest that microstructural alterations detected with diffusion tensor might serve as a potential biomarker for PD.

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