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Parkinson’s Disease
Volume 2015, Article ID 378032, 8 pages
Research Article

MRI Correlates of Parkinson’s Disease Progression: A Voxel Based Morphometry Study

Department of Neuroscience, Nuovo Ospedale Civile S. Agostino-Estense, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Viale Giardini 1355, 41126 Modena, Italy

Received 23 September 2014; Revised 23 December 2014; Accepted 23 December 2014

Academic Editor: Heinz Reichmann

Copyright © 2015 Valentina Fioravanti 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.


We investigated structural brain differences between a group of early-mild PD patients at different phases of the disease and healthy subjects using voxel-based morphometry (VBM). 20 mild PD patients compared to 15 healthy at baseline and after 2 years of follow-up. VBM is a fully automated technique, which allows the identification of regional differences in the gray matter enabling an objective analysis of the whole brain between groups of subjects. With respect to controls, PD patients exhibited decreased GM volumes in right putamen and right parietal cortex. After 2 years of disease, the same patients confirmed GM loss in the putamen and parietal cortex; a significant difference was also observed in the area of pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) and in the mesencephalic locomotor region (MLR). PD is associated with brain morphological changes in cortical and subcortical structures. The first regions to be affected in PD seem to be the parietal cortex and the putamen. A third structure that undergoes atrophy is the part of the inferior-posterior midbrain, attributable to the PPN and MLR. Our findings provide new insight into the brain involvement in PD and could contribute to a better understanding of the sequence of events occurring in these patients.