Purpose: To investigate the use of diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) to detect denervation of the nigrostriatal pathway in a nonhuman primate model of Parkinson disease (PD) after treatment with 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). Materials and Methods: This study was approved by the institutional committee for animal experiments. DTI was performed in marmosets (n = 6) by using a 7-T magnetic resonance (MR) imager before and 10 weeks after administration of MPTP. Fixed brains of a normal marmoset and a marmoset model of PD (n = 1) were analyzed by using microscopic tractography. Tyrosine-hydroxylase staining of dopaminergic neurons and three-dimensional histologic analysis also were performed in normal marmosets (n = 2) and a PD marmoset model (n = 2) to validate the course of the nigrostriatal pathway revealed at tractography. Statistical analysis of voxel-based and post hoc region-of-interest analyses of DTI maps was performed by using a paired t test. Results: At voxel-based analysis of DTI before and after treatment, MPTP-treated marmoset brains showed significantly increased axial and radial diffusivity in the bilateral nigrostriatal pathway (P < .05, false discovery rate corrected). The largest area of significantly increased diffusivity was an area of axial diffusivity in the right hemispere (177 mm3) that corresponded to the location of dopaminergic neurodegeneration at histologic evaluation. Region-of-interest analysis revealed a 27% increase in axial diffusivity in the right hemisphere (1.198 mm2/sec ± 0.111 to 1.522 mm2/sec ± 0.118; P = .002). Three-dimensional histologic analysis with tyrosine-hydroxylase staining showed the course of the nigrostriatal pathway and degeneration in the PD marmoset model as the absence of a tyrosinehydroxylase stained region. Microscopic tractography showed that the connection of the substantia nigra to the striatum followed the same course as the nigrostriatal pathway and fewer fiber tracts in the PD marmoset model. Conclusion: DTI and microscopic tractography showed the loss of fiber structures of the nigrostriatal pathway in the marmoset model of PD. The results of this study provide a potential basis for the use of DTI in the clinical diagnosis of PD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas