Quantitative susceptibility mapping as an indicator of subcortical and limbic iron abnormality in Parkinson's disease with dementia

Darrell T.H. Li, Edward S. Hui, Queenie Chan, N. Yao, S. E. Chua, Gráinne M. McAlonan, Shirley Y.Y. Pang, S. L. Ho, Henry K.F. Mak (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Late stage Parkinson's disease (PD) patients were commonly observed with other non-motor comorbidities such as dementia and psychosis. While abnormal iron level in the substantia nigra was clinically accepted as a biomarker of PD, it was also suggested that the increased iron deposition could impair other brain regions and induce non-motor symptoms. A new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) called Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping (QSM) has been found to measure iron concentration in the grey matter reliably. In this study, we investigated iron level of different subcortical and limbic structures of Parkinson's disease (PD) patients with and without dementia by QSM. QSM and volumetric analysis by MRI were performed in 10 PD dementia (PDD) patients (73 ± 6 years), 31 PD patients (63 ± 8 years) and 27 healthy controls (62 ± 7 years). No significant differences were observed in the L-Dopa equivalent dosage for the two PD groups (p = 0.125). Putative iron content was evaluated in different subcortical and limbic structures of the three groups, as well as its relationship with cognitive performance. One-way ANCOVA with FDR adjustment at level of 0.05, adjusted for age and gender, showed significant group differences for left and right hippocampus (p = 0.015 & 0.032, respectively, BH-corrected for multiple ROIs) and right thalamus (p = 0.032, BH-corrected). Post-hoc test with Bonferroni's correction suggested higher magnetic susceptibility in PDD patients than healthy controls in the left and right hippocampus (p = 0.001 & 0.047, respectively, Bonferroni's corrected), while PD patients had higher magnetic susceptibility than the healthy controls in right hippocampus and right thalamus (p = 0.006 & 0.005, respectively, Bonferroni's corrected). PDD patients also had higher susceptibility than the non-demented PD patients in left hippocampus (p = 0.046, Bonferroni's corrected). The magnetic susceptibilities of the left and right hippocampus were negatively correlated with the Mini-Mental State Examination score (r = −0.329 & -0.386, respectively; p < 0.05). This study provides support for iron accumulation in limbic structures of PDD and PD patients and its correlation with cognitive performance, however, its putative involvement in development of non-motor cognitive dysfunction in PD pathogenesis remains to be elucidated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-373
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Amygdala
  • Dementia
  • Hippocampus
  • Iron deposition
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Quantitative susceptibility mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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