Stereological Evaluation of the Brains in Patients with Parkinson’s disease Compared to Controls

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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive neurological disorder. A tetrad of bradykinesia, rigidity, tremor and postural instability are the core features of the disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate stereological changes in the brain of patients with PD and compare them with that of healthy controls. This case-control study was conducted on 29 patients with PD and 12 controls (C) in Zahedan, Iran. All subjects enrolled into the study through the convenience sampling method. MRI images of the brains of two groups in frontal and sagittal axis with consecutive 5mm distance slices were captured. Parameters including total volume (V) and volume density (Vv) of different parts of the brain were estimated based on Cavalries’ point counting stereological method. To analyze the data, descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney U-Test applied for comparing the PD and C groups were used. Significance level was set at p<0.05. Our study showed that the volume of the brain and total volume and volume density (Vv) of cerebral hemispheres, cerebellum, ventricles, hippocampus, pons, mid brain and superior cerebellar peduncles in the PD group did not indicate significant difference from the control group. Total volume of brain stem in PD group wasn’t significantly different from the control group. The volume density of brain stem (p= 0.012) and total volume and volume density of middle cerebellar peduncle (p< 0.0001) in PD group were significantly larger than the control group. This study shows that PD stereological parameters related to volume and volume density of middle cerebellar peduncle and volume density of brain stem were significantly larger in patients compared to the controls. Therefore, stereological parameters can be used for early diagnosis and probably for follow-up in patients with PD.

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