Neuromelanin magnetic resonance imaging of nigral volume loss in patients with Parkinson's disease

Kenichi Kashihara, Takayoshi Shinya, Fumiyo Higaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by progressive degeneration of melanin-containing neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc). Pathological change has not been detected by neuroimaging techniques in patients with PD in vivo. We examined 80 patients with PD to determine whether degeneration of the SNc is detectable in vivo by MRI. The age-matched controls consisted of 54 patients who had suffered mild acute ischemic stroke. Axial T1-weighted MRI were obtained with a 3-Tesla MRI scanner. The border of the neuromelanin-sensitive region in the SNc was traced manually on these images, and the volume of this area was calculated. The mean volumes for the left and right SNc were significantly reduced in patients with PD compared to the controls. Volume loss became marked in parallel with disease severity and duration. Neuromelanin MRI may be considered as a biomarker of nigral degeneration in patients with PD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1096
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • MRI
  • Melanin
  • Neuromelanin
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Pars compacta
  • Substantia nigra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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