Mineralization of the basal ganglia: implications for neuropsychiatry, pathology and neuroimaging

Psychiatry Res. 2003 Nov 1;121(1):59-87. doi: 10.1016/s0165-1781(03)00202-6.


This article examines the evidence for and against the existence of basal ganglia mineralization as a defined clinico-pathological entity. In reviewing the literature on basal ganglia mineralization, this article emphasizes evidence derived from different neuroimaging modalities, genetics, metabolic studies, postmortem series and their possible neuropsychiatric correlates. Relevant articles were collected through Medline and Index Medicus searches. Researchers have encountered multiple difficulties in accepting basal ganglia mineralization as a distinct entity. This syndrome lacks set clinical criteria or a unique etiology; not surprisingly, numerous articles have applied varied definitions. Because many of the reported cases have not been examined postmortem, both the extent and nature of their mineralization remains uncertain. Furthermore, researchers have considered small foci of basal ganglia mineralization a normal phenomenon of aging. However, when brain deposits are extensive, they are associated with a set of age-dependent, progressive clinical symptoms. They include cognitive impairment, extrapyramidal symptoms and psychosis. Most cases are related to abnormalities of calcium metabolism, but rare familial cases of idiopathic origin have been reported. Overabundant mineralization of the brain is judged pathological based on its amount, distribution and accompanying clinical symptoms. Although its relation with calcium dysregulation is well known, modern studies have emphasized abnormalities of iron and dopamine metabolism. The authors suggest that these metabolic abnormalities may link basal ganglia mineralization to psychotic symptomatology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / pathology
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / genetics
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / pathology
  • Calcinosis / diagnosis*
  • Calcinosis / genetics
  • Calcinosis / pathology
  • Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Dementia / genetics
  • Dementia / pathology
  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Minerals / metabolism*
  • Syndrome


  • Minerals
  • Iron
  • Dopamine