Magnetic resonance imaging as a potential biomarker for Parkinson's disease

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Although a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) biomarker for Parkinson's disease (PD) remains an unfulfilled objective, there have been numerous developments in MRI methodology and some of these have shown promise for PD. With funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Michael J Fox Foundation there will be further validation of structural, diffusion-based, and iron-focused MRI methods as possible biomarkers for PD. In this review, these methods and other strategies such as neurochemical and metabolic MRI have been covered. One of the challenges in establishing a biomarker is in the selection of individuals as PD is a heterogeneous disease with varying clinical features, different etiologies, and a range of pathologic changes. Additionally, longitudinal studies are needed of individuals with clinically diagnosed PD and cohorts of individuals who are at great risk for developing PD to validate methods. Ultimately an MRI biomarker will be useful in the diagnosis of PD, predicting the course of PD, providing a means to track its course, and provide an approach to select and monitor treatments.

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