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MRI technique reveals low brain iron in ADHD patients
Date:12/1/2013

CHICAGO Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides a noninvasive way to measure iron levels in the brains of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a study being presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). Researchers said the method could help physicians and parents make better informed decisions about medication.

ADHD is a common disorder in children and adolescents that can continue into adulthood. Symptoms include hyperactivity and difficulty staying focused, paying attention and controlling behavior. The American Psychiatric Association reports that ADHD affects 3 to 7 percent of school-age children.

Psychostimulant medications such as Ritalin are among the drugs commonly used to reduce ADHD symptoms. Psychostimulants affect levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain associated with addiction.

"Studies show that psychostimulant drugs increase dopamine levels and help the kids that we suspect have lower dopamine levels," said Vitria Adisetiyo, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C. "As brain iron is required for dopamine synthesis, assessment of iron levels with MRI may provide a noninvasive, indirect measure of dopamine."

Dr. Adisetiyo and colleagues explored this possibility by measuring brain iron in 22 children and adolescents with ADHD and 27 healthy control children and adolescents using an MRI technique called magnetic field correlation (MFC) imaging. The technique is relatively new, having been introduced in 2006 by study co-authors and faculty members Joseph A. Helpern, Ph.D., and Jens H. Jensen, Ph.D.

"MRI relaxation rates are the more conventional way to measure brain iron, but they are not very specific," Dr. Adisetiyo said. "We added MFC because it offers more refined specificity."

The results showed that the 12 ADHD patients who had n
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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert  

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