A potential biomarker in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Can assessment of brain iron deposition with SWI and corticospinal tract degeneration with DTI help?

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Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Iron-mediated oxidative stress plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This study aimed to assess iron deposition qualitatively and quantitatively by using SWI and microstructural changes in the corticospinal tract by using DTI in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Seventeen patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and 15 age-and sex-matched controls underwent brainMRimaging with SWI and DTI. SWI was analyzed for both signal-intensity scoring and quantitative estimation of iron deposition in the anterior and posterior banks of the motor and sensory cortices and deep gray nuclei. The diffusion measurements along the corticospinal tract at the level of pons and medulla were obtained by ROI analysis. RESULTS: Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis showed reduced signal-intensity grades in the posterior bank of the motor cortex bilaterally. Quantitative analysis confirmed significantly higher iron content in the posterior bank of the motor cortex in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In contrast, no significant differences were noted for the anterior bank of the motor cortex, anterior and posterior banks of the sensory cortex, and deep nuclei. Receiver operating characteristic comparison showed a cutoff of 35μg Fe/g of tissue with an area under the curve of 0.78 (P =.008) for the posterior bank of the motor cortex in discriminating patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis from controls. Fractional anisotropy was lower in the pyramidal tracts of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at the pons and medulla on either side, along with higher directionally averaged mean diffusivity values. The combination of SWI and DTI revealed an area under the curve of 0.784 for differentiating patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis from controls. CONCLUSIONS: Measurements of motor cortex iron deposition and diffusion tensor parameters of the corticospinal tract may be useful biomarkers for the diagnosis of clinically suspected amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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Sheelakumari, R., Madhusoodanan, M., Radhakrishnan, A., Ranjith, G., & Thomas, B. (2016). A potential biomarker in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Can assessment of brain iron deposition with SWI and corticospinal tract degeneration with DTI help? American Journal of Neuroradiology, 37(2), 252–258. https://doi.org/10.3174/ajnr.A4524

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