Abnormal levels of brain iron have been reported in parkinsonism, which is characterized principally by degeneration of dopaminergic (DA) nigrostriatal neurons. There are conflicting reports, however, of both increased and decreased iron in parkinsonism. An animal model of parkinsonism was used to clarify the contribution of the loss of nigrostriatal DAergic neurons to abnormal iron accumulations. In rats with 6-hydroxydopamine induced unilateral DA depletion, brain iron deposition and its day-to-day stability was studied in vivo using T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans taken on 4 consecutive days beginning 1-2 months post-surgery and post-mortem by Perls'-DAB histochemical stain. Unilateral DA depletion (parkinsonism model) produced large day-to-day fluctuations in T2 relaxation time in the striatum. The T2 relaxation time in Sham control rats was relatively minor. The uptake and transport of iron by intrinsic cells of the striatum may vary, and this variability may have been exaggerated by the destruction of DAergic nigrostriatal neurons, which are known to modulate the activity of the intrinsic cells. Inconsistent reports of increased or decreased iron in parkinsonism may reflect, in part, single time-point measures of widely fluctuating iron.
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Parkinson's disease