Research Article| Volume 276, ISSUE 1-2, P27-30, January 15, 2009

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High resolution positron emission tomography demonstrates basal ganglia dysfunction in early Parkinson's disease


      High resolution positron emission tomography (PET) with the newly developed HRRT scanner (Siemens/CTI) permits the reliable quantification of 18-Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake as a marker of neuronal activity in small subcortical nuclei which are involved in the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease (PD). We investigated the normalized cerebral metabolic rates of glucose (nCMRGlc) with HRRT PET in basal ganglia (BG) nuclei of 10 early-stage PD patients and in 9 healthy volunteers. PET data were co-registered to magnetic resonance images and analyzed in a three-dimensional volume-of-interest (VOI) approach. After normalization for global brain activity, PD patients showed a significantly higher nCMRGlc than controls bilaterally in the BG output nuclei (pallidum, substantia nigra) and unilateral in the caudate and putamen. The metabolic activity of the nucleus accumbens, the subthalamic nucleus, the corpus amygdaloideum and the red nucleus was normal. These first HRRT PET data in living parkinsonian humans extend previous brain imaging findings of abnormal network activity in the BG and confirm output nuclei and striatal overactivation also in early stage PD patients.


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