The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between iron and white matter connectivity in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) in patients undergoing deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the STN for treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Nine Parkinson’s disease patients underwent preoperative 3T MRI imaging which included acquisition of T1-weighted anatomical images along with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM). MR tractography was performed for the seed voxels located within the STN, and the correlations between normalized QSM values and the STN’s connectivity to a set of a priori chosen regions of interest were assessed.
A strong negative correlation was found between STN connectivity and QSM intensity for the thalamus, premotor, motor, and sensory regions, while a strong positive correlation was found for frontal, putamen, and brain stem areas.
Quantitative susceptibility mapping not only accurately delineates the STN borders but is also able to provide functional information about the STN functional subdivisions. The observed iron-to-connectivity correlation patterns may aid in planning DBS surgery to avoid unwanted side effects associated with DBS.