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Abstract #1211

Iron-Induced MR Contrast in Human Locus Coeruleus: A Cautionary Tale of Misleading Post Mortem MRI Results

Evgeniya Kirilina1,2, Charlotte Lange1,3, Carsten Jäger1, Tilo Reinert1,3, Kerrin Pine1, Thomas Lohmiller4, Siawoosh Mohammadi1,5, Tobias Streubel1,5, Malte David Brammerloh1,3, Anneke Alkemade6, Birte Forstmann6, Andreas Herrler7, Alexander Schnegg8, Markus Morawski9, and Nikolaus Weiskopf1,3

1Department of Neurophysics, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany, 2Neurocomputation and Neuroimaging Unit, Department of Education and Psychology, Free University Berlin, Berlin, Germany, 3Felix Bloch Institute for Solid State Physics, Faculty of Physics and Earth Sciences, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany, 4Berlin Joint EPR Lab, Institute for Nanospectroscopy, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin fuer Materialien und Energie, Berlin, Germany, 5Department of Systems Neurosciences, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany, 6Integrative Model-Based Neuroscience Research Unit, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 7Department of Anatomy and Embryology, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Science, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands, 8EPR Research Group, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, Mülheim, Germany, 9Paul Flechsig Institute of Brain Research, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany

MR contrast mechanisms in human locus coeruleus were studied combining high-resolution post mortem MRI, histology, ion-beam microscopy, and electron paramagnetic resonance. We demonstrate that the main source of MR contrast in formalin fixed LC is paramagnetic iron accumulated in noradrinergic neurons. However, we show that MR contrast in LC drastically changes during the first six months of tissue fixation. We assign these changes to iron been scavenged by neuromelanin and the change of its paramagnetic state. The results have major consequences for MRI of the locus coeruleus, demonstrating a fundamental change rather than the commonly known gradual changes in contrast due to formalin fixation.

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