Iron Dysregulation in the Brain in MND

A “world-first” study funded by Australian Rotary Health (ARH), has found differences in iron levels in the brain in Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

ARH/Rotary Club of Spring Bay Funding Partner PhD Scholarship recipient Anjan Bhattarai and a team of researchers from Monash University used an MRI based Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping (QSM) technique to investigate iron dysregulation in the motor cortex in MND.

Results from the research suggest that iron level is increased in the motor cortex in limb-onset Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) compared to healthy controls, which may not change significantly over the period of six months.

“Our results also suggest that a clinical subgroup of lumbar onset MND is more susceptible to iron dysregulation than cervical onset MND,” Anjan said.

“This study highlights the effectiveness of QSM as a potential radiological indicator in disease diagnosis and clinical trials in MND subtypes.”

Another part of Anjan’s PhD involved using an MRI based computational model called ‘Network Diffusion Model’ to investigate the pattern of cell death in MND, which is also associated with iron accumulation in the brain.

“Although MND is known to affect the motor cortex, our results suggest that the disease may start from the extra-motor regions.”

“Taken together, my PhD demonstrated the use of novel MRI techniques to investigate the disease process in MND at the early stage.”

Anjan says this is the first longitudinal MRI study investigating iron level changes in the brain in MND, and the first to investigate the pattern of atrophy in the brain using the Network Diffusion Model.

“MND is a devastating diagnosis as there is no cure for this disease. I believe that we need to defeat this condition, and research is the only way to do this,” he said.

“This research offered me the opportunity to work in the area I am fascinated about which also has the potential to make an impact on people’s lives.”

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a neurodegenerative disease affecting 8.7 per 100,000 Australians. The median survival rate is 3-5 years from symptom onset.

Anjan has published three journal articles on this research, and has one under review.


Read Anjan’s published journal articles below:


Media Contact: Jessica Cooper –

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