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Brain Perfusion in Pantothenate Kinase-associated Neurodegeneration (PKAN)

Researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University have begun a new brain imaging study to explore brain blood flow, called perfusion, in pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration, known as PKAN, the most common form of NBIA.

They hope the study will provide new insights into how the disease progresses.

To collect preliminary data, OHSU researchers Susan Hayflick, Penny Hogarth and Allison Gregory are working with the OHSU Advanced Imaging Research Center to assess both iron accumulation and perfusion in specific brain regions, such as the globus pallidus.

Research subjects and healthy volunteers will be enrolled in the study so that results between the two groups can be compared. Subjects with PKAN will stay overnight in an OHSU inpatient research unit and will undergo one MRI scan and a neurological examination.

MRI technologies to measure and analyze perfusion, called dynamic susceptibility contrast (DSC) and arterial spin labeling (ASL) will be used as part of the study.

DSC scans involve the injection of a contrast dye called gadolinium during the MRI so it can be traced sequentially as it travels through the bloodstream within the brain. ASL scans do not require contrast but instead use the MRI’s magnet to follow inflowing arterial blood in the brain.

The two methods provide a comparison. It is hoped that one or both of these MRI technologies may help provide an outcome measure, or marker, that can be used in future PKAN studies to measure disease progression.

For more information about the MRI study, contact Gregory at Gregorya@ohsu.edu or at (503) 494-4344.