Normal deposition of brain iron in childhood and adolescence: MR imaging at 1.5 T

Radiology. 1989 Aug;172(2):381-5. doi: 10.1148/radiology.172.2.2748819.


Magnetic resonance (MR) images of the brain in 285 patients between the ages of 2 and 25 years were retrospectively studied to determine the appearance of brain iron accumulation. The globus pallidus, red nucleus, substantia nigra, and dentate nucleus were evaluated with long TR/TE (repetition time/echo time) spin-echo sequences and staged. All four regions in most patients were initially hyperintense compared with white matter (stage I) before becoming isointense (stage II) and subsequently hypointense (stage III). The globus pallidus was the first to reach stage III, the red nucleus and substantia nigra were next, and the dentate nucleus was last. In general, decreased signal intensity (stage III) was not seen in these regions in patients less than 10 years old; in most patients it was seen by age 25 years. The dentate nucleus decreased in signal intensity more slowly and inconsistently; only one-third of patients had reached stage III by age 25 years. The temporal sequence of normal iron deposition as detected with MR imaging is helpful not only in the diagnosis of known iron-deposition diseases but also in the detection of iron-related pathologic changes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Reference Values


  • Iron