European Radiology

, Volume 28, Issue 9, pp 3882–3892 | Cite as

Direct localisation of the human pedunculopontine nucleus using MRI: a coordinate and fibre-tracking study

  • Fei Cong
  • Jia-Wei Wang
  • Bo Wang
  • Zhangyan Yang
  • Jing An
  • Zhentao Zuo
  • Zihao Zhang
  • Yu-Qing ZhangEmail author
  • Yan ZhuoEmail author
Magnetic Resonance



To image the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPN), a deep brain stimulation (DBS) target for Parkinson disease, using MRI with validated results.


This study used the MP2RAGE sequence with high resolution and enhanced grey-white matter contrast on a 7-T ultra-high-field MRI system to image the PPN as well as a diffusion spectrum imaging method on a 3-T MRI system to reconstruct the main fibre systems surrounding the PPN. The coordinates of the rostral and caudal PPN poles of both sides were measured in relation to the third and fourth ventricular landmarks on the 7-T image.


The boundary of the PPN was delineated, and showed morphology consistent with previous histological works. The main fibres around the PPN were reconstructed. The pole coordinate results combined with the fibre spatial relationships validate the imaging results.


A practical protocol is provided to directly localise the PPN using MRI; the position and morphology of the PPN can be obtained and validated by locating its poles relative to two ventricular landmarks and by inspecting its spatial relationship with the surrounding fibre systems. This technique can be potentially used in clinics to define the boundary of the PPN before DBS surgery for treatment of Parkinson disease in a more precise and reliable manner.

Key points

• Combined information helps localise the PPN as a DBS target for PD patients

• Scan the PPN at 7 T and measure its coordinates against different ventricular landmarks

• Reconstruct the main fibres around the PPN using diffusion spectrum imaging


Pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus Parkinson disease Magnetic resonance imaging Deep brain stimulation Diffusion tensor imaging 

Abbreviations and acronyms


Anterior commissure


Cerebral aqueduct


Central tegmental tracts


Deep brain stimulation


MP2RAGE two-echo divided image


Decussation of the superior cerebellar peduncle


Diffusion spectrum imaging


DSI image with b value = 0


Diffusion tensor imaging


Medial lemniscus


Periaqueductal grey


Posterior commissures


Parkinson disease

Point B

Base point of the B-F coordinate

Point F

Fastigial point of the B-F coordinate


Pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus


Mean quantitative anisotropy


Second echo of the MP2RAGE image


Superior cerebellar peduncle


Substantia nigra pars compacta


Subthalamic nucleus



We thank Mr. Jing Luo and Ms. Hong Xu for their assistance with the experimental conditions and Dr. Penghu Wei and Dr. Xu Yan for their technical advice.


This study has received funding from the Chinese MOST (Ministry of Science and Technology of China) “973” grant (2015CB351701), NSFC (National Natural Science Foundation of China) grants (31730039, 81601060), and Beijing Municipal Commission of Science and Technology grant (Z161100000116059).

Compliance with ethical standards


The scientific guarantor of this publication is Yan Zhuo.

Conflict of interest

The author Jing An is an employee of Siemens responsible for customer research support. The other authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies, whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.

Statistics and biometry

No complex statistical methods were necessary for this paper.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects (patients) in this study.

Ethical approval

Institutional Review Board approval was obtained.


• experimental

• performed at one institution

Supplementary material

330_2017_5299_MOESM1_ESM.docx (332 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 332 kb)
330_2017_5299_MOESM2_ESM.docx (137 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 137 kb)
330_2017_5299_MOESM3_ESM.docx (1.5 mb)
ESM 3 (DOCX 1496 kb)


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fei Cong
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jia-Wei Wang
    • 3
  • Bo Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhangyan Yang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jing An
    • 4
  • Zhentao Zuo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zihao Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yu-Qing Zhang
    • 5
    Email author
  • Yan Zhuo
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Science, Beijing MR Center for Brain Research, Institute of BiophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Neurosurgery, Cancer HospitalChinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical CollegeBeijingChina
  4. 4.Siemens Shenzhen Magnetic Resonance Ltd.Siemens MRI CenterShenzhenChina
  5. 5.Beijing Institute of Functional Neurosurgery, Department of Functional Neurosurgery, Xuanwu HospitalCapital Medical UniversityBeijingChina

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