Structural imaging and Parkinson's disease: Moving toward quantitative markers of disease progression

N. W. Sterling, M. M. Lewis, G. Du, X. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Parkinson s disease (PD) is a progressive age-related neurodegenerative disorder. Although the pathological hallmark of PD is dopaminergic cell death in the substantia nigra pars compacta, widespread neurodegenerative changes occur throughout the brain as disease progresses. Postmortem studies, for example, have demonstrated the presence of Lewy pathology, apoptosis, and loss of neurotransmitters and interneurons in both cortical and subcortical regions of PD patients. Many in vivo structural imaging studies have attempted to gauge PD-related pathology, particularly in gray matter, with the hope of identifying an imaging biomarker. Reports of brain atrophy in PD, however, have been inconsistent, most likely due to differences in the studied populations (i.e. different disease stages and/or clinical subtypes), experimental designs (i.e. cross-sectional vs. longitudinal), and image analysis methodologies (i.e. automatic vs. manual segmentation). This review attempts to summarize the current state of gray matter structural imaging research in PD in relationship to disease progression, reconciling some of the differences in reported results, and to identify challenges and future avenues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-567
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Parkinson's Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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