Upper brainstem GABA levels in Parkinson’s disease

Yulu Song, Tao Gong, Muhammad G. Saleh, Mark Mikkelsen, Guangbin Wang, Richard A.E. Edden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The dopaminergic pathology of Parkinson’s disease (PD) impacts circuits involving GABAergic neurons, especially in the brainstem, where the disease manifests early. The aim of this study is to test the hypothesis that levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the upper brainstem are reduced in patients with PD compared to healthy controls, using edited magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS of GABA +). Materials and methods: GABA + levels were examined in 18 PD patients and 18 age- and sex-matched healthy controls (HCs). GABA + -edited MRS was performed in 7.5-ml voxels in the upper brainstem, and the spectra were processed using the Gannet software. Differences in GABA + levels between the two groups were analyzed using independent t test analysis. Results: GABA + levels were significantly lower (p < 0.05) in the upper brainstem of the patients with PD (4.57 ± 0.94 mM) than the HCs (5.89 ± 1.16 mM). Conclusion: The lower GABA + levels in the upper brainstem of the PD patients suggest that a GABAergic deficit in the brainstem may contribute to the pathology in PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-696
Number of pages8
JournalMagnetic Resonance Materials in Physics, Biology and Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Brainstem
  • GABA
  • H MRS
  • Parkinson’s disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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