Object: In the present study, we aimed to evaluate the impact of neurodegeneration of the nigrostriatal tract in a rodent model of Parkinson's disease on the different MR contrasts (T(2), T(1), CBF and CBV) measured in the striatum.
Material and methods: Animals were injected with 6-hydroxydopamine (6OHDA) in the substantia nigra resulting in massive loss of nigrostriatal neurons and hence dopamine depletion in the ipsilateral striatum. Using 7T MRI imaging, we have quantified T(2), T(1), CBF and CBV in the striata of 6OHDA and control rats. To validate the lesion size, behavioral testing, dopamine transporter muSPECT and tyrosine hydroxylase staining were performed.
Results: No significant differences were demonstrated in the absolute MRI values between 6OHDA animals and controls; however, 6OHDA animals showed significant striatal asymmetry for all MRI parameters in contrast to controls.
Conclusions: These PD-related asymmetry ratios might be the result of counteracting changes in both intact and affected striatum and allowed us to diagnose PD lesions. As lateralization is known to occur also in PD patients and might be expected in transgenic PD models as well, we propose that MR-derived asymmetry ratios in the striatum might be a useful tool for in vivo phenotyping of animal models of PD.