Improved Neuroimaging Atlas of the Dentate Nucleus


The dentate nucleus (DN) of the cerebellum is the major output nucleus of the cerebellum and is rich in iron. Quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) provides better iron-sensitive MRI contrast to delineate the boundary of the DN than either T2-weighted images or susceptibility-weighted images. Prior DN atlases used T2-weighted or susceptibility-weighted images to create DN atlases. Here, we employ QSM images to develop an improved dentate nucleus atlas for use in imaging studies. The DN was segmented in QSM images from 38 healthy volunteers. The resulting DN masks were transformed to a common space and averaged to generate the DN atlas. The center of mass of the left and right sides of the QSM-based DN atlas in the Montreal Neurological Institute space was −13.8, −55.8, and −36.4 mm, and 13.8, −55.7, and −36.4 mm, respectively. The maximal probability and mean probability of the DN atlas with the individually segmented DNs in this cohort were 100 and 39.3%, respectively, in contrast to the maximum probability of approximately 75% and the mean probability of 23.4 to 33.7% with earlier DN atlases. Using QSM, which provides superior iron-sensitive MRI contrast for delineating iron-rich structures, an improved atlas for the dentate nucleus has been generated. The atlas can be applied to investigate the role of the DN in both normal cortico-cerebellar physiology and the variety of disease states in which it is implicated.

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The authors thank Dr. Thomas Wichmann for the critical review of the manuscript. The authors thank Dr. Hongmei Fu and Dr. Hengfen Gong for the recruiting part of the volunteers. The authors wish to thank all the subjects who participated in this study. The study was supported in part through the State Key Clinical Department of Medical Imaging. XH, DH, and JL are supported in part by the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJF 10854). CL is supported in part by the National Institutes of Health through grants (R01MH096979 and R01NS079653).

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Correspondence to Fuhua Yan or Xiaoping P. Hu.

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The current study was approved by local ethical committees. All subjects gave written informed consent in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki in its currently applicable form.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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He, N., Langley, J., Huddleston, D.E. et al. Improved Neuroimaging Atlas of the Dentate Nucleus. Cerebellum 16, 951–956 (2017).

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  • Dentate nucleus
  • Quantitative susceptibility mapping
  • MRI atlas