School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. PD is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer's disease and affects approximately seven million people globally and one million people in the United States. The prevalence (proportion in a population at a given time) of PD is about 0.3% of the whole population in industrialized countries. PD is more common in the elderly and prevalence rises from 1% in those over 60 years of age to 4% of the population over 80. The mean age of onset is around 60 years, although 5–10% of cases, classified as young onset, begin between the ages of 20 and 50.

Although Parkinson's disease can't be cured, medications may markedly improve your symptoms. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson's disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement. In the early stages of Parkinson's disease, face may show little or no expression, or arms may not swing when you walk. Speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson's disease symptoms worsen as condition progresses over time. Medical management can often improve the quality of life of patients with PD.

Our Laboratory Investigates:

Quantification of tissue injury at the cellular level in the substantia nigra (SN) region in the patients with PD with advanced MRI techniques such as Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS), Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) and Magnetization Transfer Ratio (MTR). We are developing biomarkers that quantify tissue injury and response to therapy. This will also enable us to test new therapies for PD.  Below are some examples of our exploratory imaging studies in PD:

MR spectroscopy of the substantia nigra, the region that produces dopamine
Phase contrast image to identify substantia nigra (SN)
Whole Brain tissue Apparent Diffusion Coefficients (ADC) map of DTI
Whole Brain Tissue Fractional Anisotropy (FA) map of DTI
Whole brain tissue Magnetization Transfer Ratio (MTR) map
Whole brain tissue Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) map