Increase in the iron content of the substantia nigra and red nucleus in multiple sclerosis and clinically isolated syndrome: A 7 Tesla MRI study




To study iron deposition in the substantia nigra (SN) and red nuclei (RN), in patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) and relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) and healthy controls (HC).

Materials and Methods

Iron deposition was assessed using susceptibility maps and T2*-w images acquired at high resolution MRI at 7 Tesla (T). Mean intensities were calculated within circular regions of interest in the SN (d/v, dorsal/ventral) and RN on high resolution T2*-w, quantitative susceptibility maps and their product for: RRMS, CIS and HC (N = 14, 21, 27, respectively).


Magnetic susceptibility was significantly greater in SNd and RN in RRMS compared with HC (P = 0.04 [0.001, 0.48] and P = 0.01 [0.005, 0.05]), with intermediate values for the CIS group. 1/T2*-w did not show significant inter-group differences (for SNv, SNd, RN, respectively: P = 0.5 [−0.352, 0976], P = 0.35 [−0.208, 0.778], P = 0.16 [−0.114, 0.885] for RRMS versus HC) and the T2*-susceptibility product maps showed the difference only for RN (P = 0.01, [0.009, 0.062]). Changes were independent of EDSS and disease duration.


MR changes consistent with iron accumulation occurring in the SN and RN of CIS patients can be identified using susceptibility mapping; this may provide an additional method of monitoring early MS development. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2015;41:1065–1070. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.