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AbstractA key aim in epidemiological neuroscience is identification of markers to assess brain health and monitor therapeutic interventions. Quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) is an emerging MRI technique that measures tissue magnetic susceptibility and has been shown to detect pathological changes in tissue iron, myelin and calcification. We developed a QSM processing pipeline to estimate magnetic susceptibility of multiple brain structures in 35,885 subjects from the UK Biobank prospective epidemiological study. We identified phenotypic associations of magnetic susceptibility that include body iron, disease, diet, and alcohol consumption. Genome-wide associations related magnetic susceptibility to genetic variants with biological functions involving iron, calcium, myelin, and extracellular matrix. These patterns of associations include relationships that are unique to QSM, in particular being complementary to T2* measures. These new imaging phenotypes are being integrated into the core UK Biobank measures provided to researchers world-wide, creating potential to discover novel, non-invasive markers of brain health.

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