Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder producing a variety of motor and cognitive deficits with the causes remaining largely unknown. The gradual loss of the nigrostriatal pathway is currently considered the pivotal pathological event. To better understand the progression of PD and improve treatment management, defining the disease on a structural basis and expanding brain analysis to extra-nigral structures is indispensable. The anatomical complexity and the presence of neuromelanin, make the use of non-human primates an essential element in developing putative imaging biomarkers of PD. To this end, ex vivo T2-weighted magnetic resonance images were acquired from control and 1-methyl-4 phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-treated marmosets. Volume measurements of the caudate, putamen, and substantia nigra indicated significant atrophy and cortical thinning. Tensor-based morphometry provided a more extensive and hypothesis free assessment of widespread changes caused by the toxin insult to the brain, especially highlighting regional cortical atrophy. The results highlight the importance of developing imaging biomarkers of PD in non-human primate models considering their distinct neuroanatomy. It is essential to further develop these biomarkers in vivo to provide non-invasive tools to detect pre-symptomatic PD and to monitor potential disease altering therapeutics.
Modo, M., Crum, W. R., Gerwig, M., Vernon, A. C., Patel, P., Jackson, M. J., … Iravani, M. M. (2017). Magnetic resonance imaging and tensor-based morphometry in the MPTP non-human primate model of Parkinson’s disease. PLoS ONE, 12(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180733