Background and purpose: It is well known that patients with MS tend to have abnormal iron deposition in and around the MS plaques, in the basal ganglia and the THA. In this study, we used SWI to quantify iron content in patients with MS and healthy volunteers.
Materials and methods: Fifty-two patients with MS were recruited to assess abnormal iron content in their basal ganglia and THA structures. One hundred twenty-two healthy subjects were recruited to establish a baseline of normal iron content in deep GM structures. Each structure was separated into 2 regions: a low-iron-content region and a high-iron-content region. The average phase, the percentage area, and the total phase of the high-iron-content region were evaluated. A weighting was also assigned to each subject depending on the level of iron content and its deviation from the normal range.
Results: A clear separation between iron content in healthy subjects versus patients with MS was seen. For healthy subjects 13% and for patients with MS 65% showed an iron-weighting factor >3 SDs from the normal mean (P < .05). The results for those patients younger than 40 years are even more impressive. In these cases, only 1% of healthy subjects and 67% of patients with RRMS showed abnormally high iron content.
Conclusions: Iron-weighting factors in the basal ganglia, THA, and the midbrain appeared to be abnormal in roughly two-thirds of patients with MS as measured by SWI.