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In vivo MRI assessment of the human locus coeruleus along its rostrocaudal extent in young and older adults

Betts, MJ; Cardenas-Blanco, A; Kanowski, M; Jessen, F; Duezel, E; (2017) In vivo MRI assessment of the human locus coeruleus along its rostrocaudal extent in young and older adults. NeuroImage , 163 pp. 150-159. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.09.042. Green open access

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Abstract

The locus coeruleus (LC), a major origin of noradrenergic projections in the central nervous system (CNS), may serve a critical role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD). As such, there is considerable interest to develop magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to assess the integrity of the LC in vivo. The high neuromelanin content of the LC serves as an endogenous contrast for MRI but existing protocols suffer from low spatial resolution along the rostrocaudal axis of the LC rendering it difficult to differentiate its integrity in caudal and rostral portions. This study presents a novel approach to investigate the human LC in vivo using T1-weighted Fast Low Angle Shot (FLASH) MRI at 3 T (T). Using high-resolution isotropic imaging to minimise the effect of low spatial resolution in the slice direction, this study aimed to characterise the rostrocaudal distribution of LC signal intensity attributed to neuromelanin from 25 young (22–30) and 57 older (61–80) adults. We found a significant age-related increase in maximum but not median signal intensity, indicating age-related differences were not homogenous. Instead, they were confined to the rostral third of the LC with relative sparing of the caudal portion. The findings presented demonstrate in vivo T1-weighted FLASH imaging may be used to characterise signal intensity changes across the entire rostrocaudal length of the LC (a corresponding standardised LC map is available for download), which may help to identify how the human LC is differentially affected in aging and neurodegenerative disease.

Type: Article
Title: In vivo MRI assessment of the human locus coeruleus along its rostrocaudal extent in young and older adults
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.09.042
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.09.042
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: in vivo, brainstem, locus coeruleus, neuromelanin-sensitive MRI, aging
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10048622
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