Brain Findings Associated with Iodine Deficiency Identified by Magnetic Resonance Methods: A Systematic Review


Objectives: Iodine deficiency (ID) is a common cause of preventable brain damage and mental retardation worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation. It may adversely affect brain maturation processes that potentially result in structural and metabolic brain abnormalities, visible on Magnetic Resonance (MR) techniques. Currently, however, there has been no review of the appearance of these brain changes on MR methods. Methods: A systematic review was conducted using 3 online search databases (Medline, Embase and Web of Knowledge) using multiple combinations of the following search terms: iodine, iodine deficiency, magnetic resonance, MRI, MRS, brain, imaging and iodine deficiency disorders (i.e. hypothyroxinaemia, congenital hypothyroidism, hypothyroidism and cretinism). Results: Up to May 2013, 1673 related papers were found. Of these, 29 studies confirmed their findings directly using MR Imaging and/or MR Spectroscopy. Of them, 28 were in humans and involved 157 subjects, 46 of whom had primary hypothyroidism, 97 had congenital hypothyroidism, 3 had endemic cretinism and 11 had subclinical hypothyroidism. The studies were small, with a mean relevant sample size of 6, median 2, range 1 - 35, while 14 studies were individual case reports. T1-weighted was the most commonly used MRI sequence (20/29 studies) and 1.5 Tesla was the most commonly used magnet strength (6/10 studies that provided this information). Pituitary abnormalities (18/29 studies) and cerebellar atrophy (3/29 studies) were the most prevalent brain abnormalities found. Only fMRI studies (3/29) reported cognition-related abnormalities but the brain changes found were limited to a visual description in all studies. Conclusions: More studies that use MR methods to identify changes on brain volume or other global structural abnormalities and explain the mechanism of ID causing thyroid dysfunction and hence cognitive damage are required. Given the role of MR techniques in cognitive studies, this review provides a starting point for researching the macroscopic structural brain changes caused by ID.

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M. Hernández, K. Wilson, E. Combet and J. Wardlaw, "Brain Findings Associated with Iodine Deficiency Identified by Magnetic Resonance Methods: A Systematic Review," Open Journal of Radiology, Vol. 3 No. 4, 2013, pp. 180-195. doi: 10.4236/ojrad.2013.34030.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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