Effects of aging on T₁, T₂*, and QSM MRI values in the subcortex

Brain Struct Funct. 2017 Aug;222(6):2487-2505. doi: 10.1007/s00429-016-1352-4. Epub 2017 Feb 6.


The aging brain undergoes several anatomical changes that can be measured with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Early studies using lower field strengths have assessed changes in tissue properties mainly qualitatively, using [Formula: see text]- or [Formula: see text]- weighted images to provide image contrast. With the development of higher field strengths (7 T and above) and more advanced MRI contrasts, quantitative measures can be acquired even of small subcortical structures. This study investigates volumetric, spatial, and quantitative MRI parameter changes associated with healthy aging in a range of subcortical nuclei, including the basal ganglia, red nucleus, and the periaqueductal grey. The results show that aging has a heterogenous effects across regions. Across the subcortical areas an increase of [Formula: see text] values is observed, most likely indicating a loss of myelin. Only for a number of areas, a decrease of [Formula: see text] and increase of QSM is found, indicating an increase of iron. Aging also results in a location shift for a number of structures indicating the need for visualization of the anatomy of individual brains.

Keywords: Aging; Basal ganglia; QSM; Subcortex; Ultra-high field 7 T MRI.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aging* / metabolism
  • Basal Ganglia / diagnostic imaging
  • Basal Ganglia / metabolism
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Periaqueductal Gray / diagnostic imaging
  • Periaqueductal Gray / metabolism
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Red Nucleus / diagnostic imaging
  • Red Nucleus / metabolism
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Substantia Nigra / diagnostic imaging
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / diagnostic imaging
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Iron