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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 519816, 10 pages
Review Article

Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy: An In Vivo Molecular Imaging Biomarker for Parkinson’s Disease?

1IRCCS Centro Neurolesi “Bonino-Pulejo,” S.S. 113 Via Palermo, Contrada Casazza, 98124 Messina, Italy
2Department of Biomedical Sciences and Morphological and Functional Imaging, University of Messina, 98124 Messina, Italy

Received 8 May 2014; Revised 14 August 2014; Accepted 31 August 2014; Published 11 September 2014

Academic Editor: Yiying Zhang

Copyright © 2014 Rosella Ciurleo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by selective loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta which leads to dysfunction of cerebral pathways critical for the control of movements. The diagnosis of PD is based on motor symptoms, such as bradykinesia, akinesia, muscular rigidity, postural instability, and resting tremor, which are evident only after the degeneration of a significant number of dopaminergic neurons. Currently, a marker for early diagnosis of PD is still not available. Consequently, also the development of disease-modifying therapies is a challenge. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy is a quantitative imaging technique that allows in vivo measurement of certain neurometabolites and may produce biomarkers that reflect metabolic dysfunctions and irreversible neuronal damage. This review summarizes the abnormalities of cerebral metabolites found in MRS studies performed in patients with PD and other forms of parkinsonism. In addition, we discuss the potential role of MRS as in vivo molecular imaging biomarker for early diagnosis of PD and for monitoring the efficacy of therapeutic interventions.