Pool size ratio of the substantia nigra in Parkinson’s disease derived from two different quantitative magnetization transfer approaches

Paula Trujillo, Paul E. Summers, Alex K. Smith, Seth A. Smith, Luca T. Mainardi, Sergio Cerutti, Daniel O. Claassen, Antonella Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We sought to measure quantitative magnetization transfer (qMT) properties of the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and healthy controls (HCs) using a full qMT analysis and determine whether a rapid single-point measurement yields equivalent results for pool size ratio (PSR). Methods: Sixteen different MT-prepared MRI scans were obtained at 3 T from 16 PD patients and eight HCs, along with B1, B0, and relaxation time maps. Maps of PSR, free and macromolecular pool transverse relaxation times ((Formula presented.), (Formula presented.)) and rate of MT exchange between pools (kmf) were generated using a full qMT model. PSR maps were also generated using a single-point qMT model requiring just two MT-prepared images. qMT parameter values of the SNc, red nucleus, cerebral crus, and gray matter were compared between groups and methods. Results: PSR of the SNc was the only qMT parameter to differ significantly between groups (p < 0.05). PSR measured via single-point analysis was less variable than with the full MT model, provided slightly better differentiation of PD patients from HCs (area under curve 0.77 vs. 0.75) with sensitivity of 0.75 and specificity of 0.87, and was better than transverse relaxation time in distinguishing PD patients from HCs (area under curve 0.71, sensitivity 0.87, and specificity 0.50). Conclusion: The increased PSR observed in the SNc of PD patients may provide a novel biomarker of PD, possibly associated with an increased macromolecular content. Single-point PSR mapping with reduced variability and shorter scan times relative to the full qMT model appears clinically feasible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1251-1263
Number of pages13
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Magnetization transfer
  • Neuromelanin
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Substantia nigra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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