• nigral degeneration;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • parkin;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • positron emission tomography


We have used MR segmented inversion recovery ratio imaging (SIRRIM) of the substantia nigra pars compacta to detect and correlate nigral signal change in idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) and parkin patients with striatal 18F-dopa uptake. Nine PD patients, nine parkin patients, and eight control subjects were studied with a combination of MR inversion recovery sequences sensitive to nigral cell loss. Blinded independent observer rating and quantified nigral signal analysis were performed on all subjects. Striatal regions of interest were defined on T1-weighted MRI coregistered to 18F-dopa positron emission tomography. On blinded observer rating of the SIRRIM dorsal and ventral nigral images, 25% (2/8) of control subjects, 44% (4/9) of PD patients, and 67% (6/9) of parkin patients were classified as abnormal. Quantified total nigral signal intensities were reduced to a greater extent in the parkin compared to PD patients. There was a greater predilection for signal reduction in the ventral nigral slice of the PD compared to the parkin patient group, who showed a more uniform involvement. All PD and parkin patients were discriminated from controls on the basis of caudate and putamen 18F-dopa Ki reductions. Our results suggest that MR segmented inversion recovery ratio imaging shows poor sensitivity for discriminating parkin and idiopathic PD patients from normal controls. Where nigral signal abnormalities were seen, parkin patients manifested generalized nigral cell loss with widespread striatal dopamine terminal dysfunction compared with the lateral nigral targeting seen in PD and selective loss of putamen 18F-dopa uptake. © 2005 Movement Disorder Society