Subjects with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) and subjects with ultra-high risk for psychosis (UHR) share a risk of approximately 30% to develop a psychotic disorder. Studying these groups helps identify biological markers of pathophysiological processes involved in the development of psychosis. Total cortical surface area (cSA), total cortical grey matter volume (cGMV), cortical thickness (CT), and local gyrification index (LGI) of the cortical structure have a distinct neurodevelopmental origin making them important target markers to study in relation to the development of psychosis.
Materials and Methods
Structural T1-weighted high resolution images were acquired using a 3 Tesla Intera MRI system in 18 UHR subjects, 18 22q11DS subjects, and 24 matched healthy control (HC) subjects. Total cSA, total cGMV, mean CT, and regional vertex-wise differences in CT and LGI were assessed using FreeSurfer software. The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale was used to assess psychotic symptom severity in UHR and 22q11DS subjects at time of scanning.
22q11DS subjects had lower total cSA and total cGMV compared to UHR and HC subjects. The 22q11DS subjects showed bilateral lower LGI in the i) prefrontal cortex, ii) precuneus, iii) precentral gyrus and iv) cuneus compared to UHR subjects. Additionally, lower LGI was found in the left i) fusiform gyrus and right i) pars opercularis, ii) superior, and iii) inferior temporal gyrus in 22q11DS subjects compared to HC. In comparison to 22q11DS subjects, the UHR subjects had lower CT of the insula. For both risk groups, positive symptom severity was negatively correlated to rostral middle frontal gyrus CT.
A shared negative correlation between positive symptom severity and rostral middle frontal gyrus CT in UHR and 22q11DS may be related to their increased vulnerability to develop a psychotic disorder. 22q11DS subjects were characterised by widespread lower degree of cortical gyrification linked to early and postnatal neurodevelopmental pathology. No implications for early neurodevelopmental pathology were found for the UHR subjects, although they did have distinctively lower insula CT which may have arisen from defective pruning processes during adolescence. Implications of these findings in relation to development of psychotic disorders are in need of further investigation in longitudinal studies.
Ecstasy is a commonly used psychoactive drug with 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) as the main content. Importantly, it has been suggested that use of MDMA may be neurotoxic particularly for serotonergic (5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)) neurons. In the past decades, several molecular imaging studies examined directly in vivo the effects of ecstasy/MDMA on neurotransmitter systems.
The objective of the present study is to review the effects of ecstasy/MDMA on neurotransmitter systems as assessed by molecular imaging studies in small animals, non-human primates and humans.
A search in PubMed was performed. Eighty-eight articles were found on which inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied.
Thirty-three studies met the inclusion criteria; all were focused on the 5-HT or dopamine (DA) system. Importantly, 9 out of 11 of the animal studies that examined the effects of MDMA on 5-HT transporter (SERT) availability showed a significant loss of binding potential. In human studies, this was the case for 14 out of 16 studies, particularly in heavy users. In abstinent users, significant recovery of SERT binding was found over time. Most imaging studies in humans that focused on the DA system did not find any significant effect of ecstasy/MDMA use.
Preclinical and clinical molecular imaging studies on the effects of ecstasy/MDMA use/administration on neurotransmitter systems show quite consistent alterations of the 5-HT system. Particularly, in human studies, loss of SERT binding was observed in heavy ecstasy users, which might reflect 5-HT neurotoxicity, although alternative explanations (e.g. down-regulation of the SERT) cannot be excluded.
3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine; MDMA; Ecstasy; Neuroimaging; PET; SPECT; fMRI; Neurotoxicity; Serotonin; Dopamine
Dexamphetamine (dAMPH) is a stimulant drug that is widely used recreationally as well as for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although animal studies have shown neurotoxic effects of dAMPH on the dopaminergic system, little is known about such effects on the human brain. Here, we studied the dopaminergic system at multiple physiological levels in recreational dAMPH users and age, gender, and IQ-matched dAMPH-naïve healthy controls. We assessed baseline D2/3 receptor availability, in addition to changes in dopamine (DA) release using single-photon emission computed tomography and DA functionality using pharmacological magnetic resonance imaging, following a dAMPH challenge. Also, the subjective responses to the challenge were determined. dAMPH users displayed significantly lower striatal DA D2/3 receptor binding compared with healthy controls. In dAMPH users, we further observed a blunted DA release and DA functionality to an acute dAMPH challenge, as well as a blunted subjective response. Finally, the lower D2/3 availability, the more pleasant the dAMPH administration was experienced by control subjects, but not by dAMPH users. Thus, in agreement with preclinical studies, we show that the recreational use of dAMPH in human subjects is associated with dopaminergic system dysfunction. These findings warrant further (longitudinal) investigations and call for caution when using this drug recreationally and for ADHD.
Agonist positron emission tomography (PET) tracers for dopamine D2/3 receptors (D2/3Rs) offer greater sensitivity to changes in endogenous dopamine levels than D2/3R antagonist tracers. D2/3R agonist tracers currently available for clinical research are labeled with the short-lived isotope carbon-11, which limits their use. We aimed to develop high-affinity D2R agonists amenable for labeling with the longer-living fluorine-18. Here, we report the evaluation as potential PET tracers of two homologous series of [18F]fluorinated tracers based on the 2-aminomethylchroman-7-ol (AMC) scaffold: (R)-2-((4-(2-fluoroalkoxy)benzylamino)methyl)chroman-7-ols (AMC13 homologues) and (R)-2-((2-(4-(4-(fluoroalkoxy)phenyl)piperazin-1-yl)ethylamino)methyl)chroman-7-ols (AMC15 homologues). We varied the length of the 18F-fluoroalkyl chain in these structures to balance brain penetration and non-specific binding of the radioligands by adjusting their lipophilicity.
The tracers were evaluated in brain slices of Sprague-Dawley rats by in vitro autoradiography and in living rats by microPET imaging and ex vivo autoradiography. PET data were analyzed with one- and two-tissue compartmental models (1TCM/2TCM), simplified reference tissue model (SRTM), and Logan graphical analysis. Specificity of binding was tested by blocking D2/3R with raclopride.
Homologues with a shorter fluoroalkyl chain consistently showed greater D2/3R-specific-to-total binding ratios in the striatum than those with longer chains. The fluoroethoxy homologue of AMC13 ([18F]FEt-AMC13) demonstrated the highest degree of D2/3R-specific binding among the evaluated tracers: mean striatum-to-cerebellum uptake ratio reached 4.4 in vitro and 2.1/2.8 in vivo/ex vivo (PET/autoradiography). Striatal binding potential (BPND) relative to cerebellum was 0.51–0.63 depending on the estimation method. Radiometabolites of [18F]FEt-AMC13 did not enter the brain. In vitro, application of 10 μmol/L raclopride reduced D2/3R-specific binding of [18F]FEt-AMC13 in the striatum by 81 %. In vivo, pre-treatment with 1 mg/kg (2.9 μmol/kg) raclopride led to 17–39 % decrease in D2/3R-specific binding in the striatum.
Varying the length of the [18F]fluoroalkyl chain helped improve the characteristics of the original candidate tracers. Further modifications of the current lead [18F]FEt-AMC13 can provide an agonist radiopharmaceutical suitable for D2/3R imaging by PET.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13550-015-0119-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Agonist tracer; Dopamine receptor; PET; Fluorine-18
Dexamphetamine (dAMPH) is not only used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but also as a recreational drug. Acutely, dAMPH induces release of predominantly dopamine (DA) in the striatum, and in the cortex both DA and noradrenaline. Recent animal studies have shown that chronic dAMPH administration can induce changes in the DA system following long-term exposure, as evidenced by reductions in DA transporters, D2/3 receptors and endogenous DA levels. However, only a limited number of studies have investigated the effects of dAMPH in the human brain. We used a combination of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) and [123I]IBZM single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) (to assess baseline D2/3 receptor binding and DA release) in 15 recreational AMPH users and 20 matched healthy controls to investigate the short-, and long-term effects of AMPH before and after an acute intravenous challenge with dAMPH. We found that acute dAMPH administration reduced functional connectivity in the cortico-striatal-thalamic network. dAMPH-induced DA release, but not DA D2/3 receptor binding, was positively associated with connectivity changes in this network. In addition, acute dAMPH reduced connectivity in default mode networks and salience-executive-networks networks in both groups. In contrast to our hypothesis, no significant group differences were found in any of the rs-fMRI networks investigated, possibly due to lack of sensitivity or compensatory mechanisms. Our findings thus support the use of ICA-based resting-state functional connectivity as a tool to investigate acute, but not chronic, alterations induced by dAMPH on dopaminergic processing in the striatum.
Dopamine; Functional connectivity; Pharmacological MRI; Resting-state fMRI; SPECT
In specialized movement disorder centers, Parkinson’s disease (PD) is wrongly diagnosed in 6 to 25% of cases. To improve the accuracy of the clinical diagnosis, it is necessary to have a reliable and practical reference standard. Dopamine transporter single-photon emission computed tomography (DAT SPECT) imaging might have the potential (high diagnostic accuracy and practical to use) to act as reference standard in detecting nigrostriatal cell loss in patients with (early stage) parkinsonism. We performed a systematic review to evaluate if DAT SPECT imaging can be used as such. Relevant studies were searched in the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases. Studies were selected when they met the following criteria: (1) all patients were adults with a clinical diagnosis of PD or clinically uncertain parkinsonism and (2) the study reported original data. In addition, studies needed to fulfill one of the two following criteria: (1) patients underwent at least one DAT SPECT and had a neuropathological confirmed diagnosis and (2) patients underwent at least two DAT SPECT scans, performed at least 2 years apart. The search identified 1,649 articles. Eight studies fulfilled our selection criteria and were included in this review. There was only one study including patients with diagnostic uncertainty. Sensitivity and specificity of DAT SPECT imaging to detect nigrostriatal cell loss were 98%. The other studies included patients with a diagnosis of PD in whom there was no uncertainty. In these studies, sensitivity was 100%. Our systematic review indicates that DAT SPECT imaging seems to be accurate to detect nigrostriatal cell loss in patients with parkinsonism.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13550-015-0087-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Diagnostic accuracy; Clinical diagnosis; Parkinson’s disease; Parkinsonism; Dopamine transporter; Single-photon emission computed tomography; Nigrostriatal cell loss
Extended-release naltrexone (XRNT), an opioid receptor antagonist, is successfully used in the treatment of opioid dependence. However, naltrexone treatment of opioid-dependent patients may reduce striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) availability and cause depression and anhedonia.
The aim of this study is to investigate changes in striatal DAT availability and symptoms of depression (Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)) and anhedonia (Snaith Hamilton Pleasure Scale (SHAPS)) before and during XRNT treatment.
At baseline, ten detoxified heroin-dependent patients and 11 matched healthy controls underwent [123I]FP-CIT single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging to assess striatal DAT binding. Patients underwent a second SPECT scan 2 weeks after an intramuscular injection with XRNT.
At baseline, the mean binding potential (BPND) in the putamen was at a trend level lower and the mean BDI score was significantly higher in heroin patients (n = 10) than in controls (n = 11) (3.45 ± 0.88 vs. 3.80 ± 0.61, p = 0.067, d = −0.48 and 12.75 ± 7.40 vs. 5.20 ± 4.83, p = 0.019, d = 1.24, respectively). Post hoc analyses in subgroups with negative urine analyses for opioids and cocaine showed significantly lower baseline putamen BPND in heroin patients (n = 8) than controls (n = 10) (3.19 ± 0.43 vs. 3.80 ± 0.64, p = 0.049, d = −1.03). XRNT treatment in heroin patients was not significantly associated with changes in striatal DAT availability (p = 0.348, d = 0.48), but the mean BDI score after XRNT treatment was significantly lower than before treatment (7.75 ± 7.21 vs. 12.75 ± 7.40, p = 0.004, d = −0.68).
The results of this study suggest that XRNT treatment does not reduce striatal DAT availability and has no significant effect on anhedonia, but is associated with a significant reduction of depressive symptoms.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00213-015-3891-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Dopamine transporter; Abstinence; Addiction; Brain imaging; In vivo; Opioid receptor
Several studies demonstrated improvement of depressive symptoms in treatment resistant depression (TRD) after administering dopamine agonists which suggest abnormal dopaminergic neurotransmission in TRD. However, the role of dopaminergic signaling through measurement of striatal dopamine D2/3 receptor (D2/3R) binding has not been investigated in TRD subjects. We used [123I]IBZM single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) to investigate striatal D2/3R binding in TRD. We included 6 severe TRD patients, 11 severe TRD patients on antipsychotics (TRD AP group) and 15 matched healthy controls. Results showed no significant difference (p = 0.75) in striatal D2/3R availability was found between TRD patients and healthy controls. In the TRD AP group D2/3R availability was significantly decreased (reflecting occupancy of D2/3Rs by antipsychotics) relative to TRD patients and healthy controls (p<0.001) but there were no differences in clinical symptoms between TRD AP and TRD patients. This preliminary study therefore does not provide evidence for large differences in D2/3 availability in severe TRD patients and suggests this TRD subgroup is not characterized by altered dopaminergic transmission. Atypical antipsychotics appear to have no clinical benefit in severe TRD patients who remain depressed, despite their strong occupancy of D2/3Rs.
The cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptor antagonist rimonabant (SR141716) alters rewarding properties and intake of food and drugs. Additionally, striatal dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) availability has been implicated in reward function. This study shows that chronic treatment of rats with rimonabant (1.0 and 3.0 mg/kg/day) dose-dependently increased DRD2 availability in the dorsal striatum (14% and 23%) compared to vehicle. High-dose rimonabant also increased DRD2 availability in the ventral striatum (12%) and reduced weight gain. Thus, upregulation of striatal DRD2 by chronic rimonabant administration may be an underlying mechanism of action and confirms the interactions of the endocannabinoid and dopaminergic systems.
cannabinoid 1 receptor; dopamine D2 receptor; IBZM; nucleus accumbens; rimonabant; striatum
Dopamine D2/3 receptor (D2/3R) agonist radiopharmaceuticals are considered superior to antagonists to detect dopamine release, e.g. induced by amphetamines. Agonists bind preferentially to the high-affinity state of the dopamine D2R, which has been proposed as the reason why agonists are more sensitive to detect dopamine release than antagonist radiopharmaceuticals, but this theory has been challenged. Interestingly, not all agonists similarly activate the classic cyclic adenosine mono phosphate (cAMP) and the ?-arrestin-2 pathway, some stimulate preferentially one of these pathways; a phenomenon called biased agonism. Because these pathways can be affected separately by pathologies or drugs (including dopamine releasers), it is important to know how agonist radiotracers act on these pathways. Therefore, we characterized the intracellular signalling of the well-known D2/3R agonist radiopharmaceuticals NPA and PHNO and of several novel D2/3R agonists.
cAMP accumulation and ?-arrestin-2 recruitment were measured on cells expressing human D2R.
All tested agonists showed (almost) full agonism in both pathways.
The tested D2/3R agonist radiopharmaceuticals did not exhibit biased agonism in vitro. Consequently, it is likely that drugs (including psychostimulants like amphetamines) and/or pathologies that influence the cAMP and/or the ?-arrestin-2 pathway may influence the binding of these radiopharmaceuticals.
Dopamine D2/3 receptor; PET/SPECT; Intracellular signalling
Essential tremor is regarded to be a disease of the central nervous system. Neuroimaging is a rapidly growing field with potential benefits to both diagnostics and research. The exact role of imaging techniques with respect to essential tremor in research and clinical practice is not clear. A systematic review of the different imaging techniques in essential tremor is lacking in the literature.
We performed a systematic literature search combining the terms essential tremor and familial tremor with the following keywords: imaging, MRI, VBM, DWI, fMRI, PET and SPECT, both in abbreviated form as well as in full form. We summarize and discuss the quality and the external validity of each study and place the results in the context of existing knowledge regarding the pathophysiology of essential tremor.
A total of 48 neuroimaging studies met our search criteria, roughly divided into 19 structural and 29 functional and metabolic studies. The quality of the studies varied, especially concerning inclusion criteria. Functional imaging studies indicated cerebellar hyperactivity during rest and during tremor. The studies also pointed to the involvement of the thalamus, the inferior olive and the red nucleus. Structural studies showed less consistent results.
Discussion and conclusion
Neuroimaging techniques in essential tremor give insight into the pathophysiology of essential tremor indicating the involvement of the cerebellum as the most consistent finding. GABAergic dysfunction might be a major premise in the pathophysiological hypotheses. Inconsistencies between studies can be partly explained by the inclusion of heterogeneous patient groups. Improvement of scientific research requires more stringent inclusion criteria and application of advanced analysis techniques. Also, the use of multimodal neuroimaging techniques is a promising development in movement disorders research. Currently, the role of imaging techniques in essential tremor in daily clinical practice is limited.
•We conducted a systematic review of neuroimaging studies in essential tremor.•Cerebellar involvement is the most consistent finding.•GABAergic dysfunction is worthwhile investigating more intensively.•We encourage multimodal neuroimaging focussing on brain networks.
Essential tremor; Neuroimaging; Review; MRI; Scintigraphy; Pathophysiology; MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; VBM, voxel-based morphometry; DWI, diffusion weighted imaging; fMRI, functional magnetic resonance imaging; PET, positron emission tomography; SPECT, single-photon emission computed tomography
Preclinical imaging with SPECT combined with CT or MRI is used more and more frequently and has proven to be very useful in translational research. In this article, an overview of current preclinical research applications and trends of SPECT combined with CT or MRI, mainly in tumour imaging and neuroscience imaging, is given and the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches are described. Today SPECT and CT systems are often integrated into a single device (commonly called a SPECT/CT system), whereas at present combined SPECT and MRI is almost always carried out with separate systems and fiducial markers to combine the separately acquired images. While preclinical SPECT/CT is most widely applied in oncology research, SPECT combined with MRI (SPECT/MRI when integrated in one system) offers the potential for both neuroscience applications and oncological applications. Today CT and MRI are still mainly used to localize radiotracer binding and to improve SPECT quantification, although both CT and MRI have additional potential. Future technology developments may include fast sequential or simultaneous acquisition of (dynamic) multimodality data, spectroscopy, fMRI along with high-resolution anatomic MRI, advanced CT procedures, and combinations of more than two modalities such as combinations of SPECT, PET, MRI and CT all together. This will all strongly depend on new technologies. With further advances in biology and chemistry for imaging molecular targets and (patho)physiological processes in vivo, the introduction of new imaging procedures and promising new radiopharmaceuticals in clinical practice may be accelerated.
Dopamine receptor; Gastric bypass surgery; Insulin sensitivity; Obesity; SPECT; Striatal dopamine; Weight loss
It is evident that there is a relationship between the brain's serotonin system and obesity. Although it is clear that drugs affecting the serotonin system regulate appetite and food intake, it is unclear whether changes in the serotonin system are cause or consequence of obesity. To determine whether obesogenic eating habits result in reduced serotonin transporter (SERT)-binding in the human hypothalamic region, we included 25 lean, male subjects who followed a 6-week-hypercaloric diet, which were high-fat-high-sugar (HFHS) or high-sugar (HS) with increased meal size or -frequency (=snacking pattern). We measured SERT-binding in the hypothalamic region with SPECT. All hypercaloric diets significantly increased body weight by 3–3.5%. Although there were no differences in total calories consumed between the diets, only a hypercaloric HFHS-snacking diet decreased SERT-binding significantly by 30%. We here show for the first time in humans that snacking may change the serotonergic system increasing the risk to develop obesity.
Serotonin transporters; Meal pattern; Hypercaloric diet; Sugar; Fat; Human imaging
Although the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is very effective, in the course of the disease, 40% to 60% of patients develop dyskinesias. The pathophysiology of dyskinesias is still unclear. Results of preclinical research suggest that uptake and uncontrolled release of dopamine by serotonergic neurons is an important factor. Based on this model, we hypothesized that dyskinesias will develop predominantly in PD patients with a relatively preserved serotonergic system.
Between 1995 and 1998, 50 patients with early-stage untreated PD, diagnosed according to clinical criteria, and reduced striatal [123I]β-carboxymethyoxy-3-beta-(4-iodophenyl) tropane (CIT) single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) binding were recruited. To test our hypothesis, we retrospectively assessed baseline [123I]β-CIT SPECT scans for striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) and midbrain serotonin transporter (SERT) availability as well as the SERT-to-DAT ratios. We compared these data between patients that developed dyskinesias and patients that did not develop dyskinesias during a mean follow-up of 14.2 years.
Approximately half of the PD patients developed dyskinesias. No differences in baseline [123I]β-CIT DAT availability, SERT availability, or SERT-to-DAT ratios were found between the dyskinetic and non-dyskinetic group. The development of dyskinesias was most strongly associated with the age of onset (P = 0.002).
SERT-to-DAT ratios in early-stage untreated PD do not correlate with the future development of dyskinesias. However, our study does not exclude the possibility that SERT-to-DAT ratios increase with disease progression in patients that develop dyskinesias because of a slower rate of degeneration of the serotonergic system.
Parkinson’s disease; Dopamine transporter; Serotonin transporter; [123I]β-CIT SPECT; Dyskinesias; Age of onset
Mesolimbic and nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathways play important roles in both the rewarding and conditioning effects of drugs. The dopamine transporter (DAT) is of central importance in regulating dopaminergic neurotransmission and in particular in activating the striatal D2-like receptors. Molecular imaging studies of the relationship between DAT availability/dopamine synthesis capacity and active cigarette smoking have shown conflicting results. Through the collaboration between 13 SPECT centres located in 10 different European countries, a database of FP-CIT-binding in healthy controls was established. We used the database to test the hypothesis that striatal DAT availability is changed in active smokers compared to non-smokers and ex-smokers.
A total of 129 healthy volunteers were included. Subjects were divided into three categories according to past and present tobacco smoking: (1) non-smokers (n = 64), (2) ex-smokers (n = 39) and (3) active smokers (n = 26). For imaging of the DAT availability, we used [123I]FP-CIT (DaTSCAN) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Data were collected in collaboration between 13 SPECT centres located in 10 different European countries. The striatal measure of DAT availability was analyzed in a multiple regression model with age, SPECT centre and smoking as predictor.
There was no statistically significant difference in DAT availability between the groups of active smokers, ex-smokers and non-smokers (p = 0.34). Further, we could not demonstrate a significant association between striatal DAT and the number of cigarettes per day or total lifetime cigarette packages in smokers and ex-smokers.
Our results do not support the hypothesis that large differences in striatal DAT availability are present in smokers compared to ex-smokers and healthy volunteers with no history of smoking.
Tobacco smoking; Non-smoking; SPECT; [123I]FP-CIT (DaTSCAN); Dopamine transporter
Serotonergic neurons in the rodent hypothalamus are implicated in key neuroendocrine and metabolic functions, including circadian rhythmicity. However, the assessment of the serotonergic system in the human hypothalamus in vivo is difficult as delineation of the hypothalamus is cumbersome with conventional region-of-interest analysis. In the present study, we aimed to develop a method to visualize serotonin transporters (SERT) in the hypothalamus. Additionally, we tested the hypothesis that hypothalamic SERT binding ratios are different between patients with hypothalamic impairment (HI), pituitary insufficiency (PI), and control subjects (C).
SERT availability was determined in 17 subjects (6 HI, 5 PI, and 6 healthy controls), 2 h after injection of 123I-N-ω-fluoropropyl-2β-carboxymethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl) nortropane ([123I]FP-CIT), using single-photon emission computed tomography (performed on a brain-dedicated system) fused with individual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain. The hypothalamus (representing specific SERT binding) and cerebellum (representing nonspecific binding) were manually delineated on each MRI to assess [123I]FP-CIT binding and specific-to-nonspecific binding ratios.
In each healthy subject, [123I]FP-CIT binding was higher in the hypothalamus than in the cerebellum, and the mean hypothalamic binding ratio of SERT was 0.29 ± 0.23. We found no difference in hypothalamic binding ratios between HI, PI, and control subjects (HI 0.16 ± 0.24, PI 0.45 ± 0.39, C 0.29 ± 0.23, p value 0.281).
We were able to demonstrate SERT binding in the human hypothalamus in vivo. However, we did not find altered hypothalamic SERT binding in patients with hypothalamic impairment.
Netherlands Trial Register: NTR2520
Serotonin transporter imaging; [123I]FP-CIT; SPECT; Human; Pituitary insufficiency; Hypothalamus; SERT
Rationale and Objective
Little is known on the effects of ecstasy (MDMA, a potent 5-HT-releaser and neurotoxin) exposure on brain development in teenagers. The objective of this study was to investigate whether in humans, like previous observations made in animals, the effects of MDMA on the 5-HT system are dependent on age-of-first exposure.
5-HT transporter (SERT) densities in the frontal cortex and midbrain were assessed with [123I]β-CIT single photon emission computed tomography in 33 users of ecstasy. Subjects were stratified for early-exposed users (age-at-first exposure 14–18 years; developing brain), and late-exposed users (age-at-first exposure 18–36 years; mature brain). In parallel, we investigated the effects of age experimentally with MDMA in early-exposed (adolescent) rats and late-exposed (adult) rats using the same radioligand.
On average, five years after first exposure, we found a strong inverse relationship, wherein age-at-first exposure predicted 79% of the midbrain SERT variability in early (developing brain) exposed ecstasy users, whereas this was only 0.3% in late (mature brain) exposed users (p = 0.007). No such effect was observed in the frontal cortex. In rats, a significant age-BY-treatment effect (p<0.01) was observed as well, however only in the frontal cortex.
These age-related effects most likely reflect differences in the maturational stage of the 5-HT projection fields at age-at-first exposure and enhanced outgrowth of the 5-HT system due to 5-HT’s neurotrophic effects. Ultimately, our findings stress the need for more knowledge on the effects of pharmacotherapies that alter brain 5-HT levels in the pediatric population.
Stimulant dependence is associated with neuropsychological impairments. Here, we summarize and integrate the existing neuroimaging literature on the neural substrates of neuropsychological (dys)function in stimulant dependence, including cocaine, (meth-)amphetamine, ecstasy and nicotine dependence, and excessive caffeine use, comparing stimulant abusers (SAs) to nondrug using healthy controls (HCs). Despite some inconsistencies, most studies indicated altered brain activation in prefrontal cortex (PFC) and insula in response to reward and punishment, and higher limbic and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC)/PFC activation during craving and attentional bias paradigms in SAs compared with HCs. Impulsivity in SAs was associated with lower ACC and presupplementary motor area activity compared with HCs, and related to both ventral (amygdala, ventrolateral PFC, insula) and dorsal (dorsolateral PFC, dorsal ACC, posterior parietal cortex) systems. Decision making in SAs was associated with low dorsolateral PFC activity and high orbitofrontal activity. Finally, executive function in SAs was associated with lower activation in frontotemporal regions and higher activation in premotor cortex compared with HCs. It is concluded that the lower activations compared with HCs are likely to reflect the neural substrate of impaired neurocognitive functions, whereas higher activations in SAs compared with HCs are likely to reflect compensatory cognitive control mechanisms to keep behavioral task performance to a similar level as in HCs. However, before final conclusions can be drawn, additional research is needed using neuroimaging in SAs and HCs using larger and more homogeneous samples as well as more comparable task paradigms, study designs, and statistical analyses.
Addiction; fMRI; functional imaging; magnetic resonance imaging; stimulant dependence; stimulants
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) accounts for 10%–15% of dementia cases at autopsy and has distinct clinical features associated with earlier institutionalisation and a higher level of carer distress than are seen in Alzheimer's disease (AD). At present, there is on-going debate as to whether DLB is associated with a more rapid cognitive decline than AD. An understanding of the rate of decline of cognitive and non-cognitive symptoms in DLB may help patients and carers to plan for the future.
In this cohort study, the authors compared 100 AD and 58 DLB subjects at baseline and at 12-month follow-up on cognitive and neuropsychiatric measures.
Patients were recruited from 40 European centres.
Subjects with mild–moderate dementia. Diagnosis of DLB or AD required agreement between consensus panel clinical diagnosis and visual rating of 123I-FP-CIT (dopamine transporter) single photon emission computed tomography neuroimaging.
The Cambridge Cognitive Examination including Mini-Mental State Examination and Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI).
The AD and DLB groups did not differ at baseline in terms of age, gender, Clinical Dementia Rating score and use of cholinesterase inhibitors or memantine. NPI and NPI carer distress scores were statistically significantly higher for DLB subjects at baseline and at follow-up, and there were no differences between AD and DLB in cognitive scores at baseline or at follow-up. There was no significant difference in rate of progression of any of the variables analysed.
DLB subjects had more neuropsychiatric features at baseline and at follow-up than AD, but the authors did not find any statistically significant difference in rate of progression between the mild–moderate AD and DLB groups on cognitive or neuropsychiatric measures over a 12-month follow-up period.
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) has distinct neuropsychiatric features.
At present, we do not know whether the poorer prognosis of DLB is due to a more rapid cognitive decline compared with Alzheimer's disease (AD).
In this fairly large cohort of patients with DLB and AD, while there was no difference in level of cognitive impairment (Cambridge Cognitive Examination (CAMCOG) score) at baseline and at 12-month follow-up, DLB patients had significantly higher Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) and NPI carer distress scores both at baseline and at 12-month follow-up.
Therefore, the worse prognosis of DLB is likely to be mediated by neuropsychiatric or other symptoms and not only by cognitive decline.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Inclusion of high number of subjects from 40 European clinical centres.
Well-characterised cases with both consensus panel clinical diagnosis (three clinical experts) and dopaminergic transporter single photon emission computed tomography imaging.
No autopsy data were available and therefore it is possible that more rapid cognitive decline may be present in pure DLB.
Only 1 year of follow-up.
There was higher attrition rate (no-follow-up assessment) in the DLB group, and DLB patients that did not return for follow-up were more impaired than AD patients.
Obesity is a result of a relative excess in energy intake over energy expenditure. These processes are controlled by genetic, environmental, psychological and biological factors. One of the factors involved in the regulation of food intake and satiety is dopaminergic signalling. A small number of studies have reported that striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor [D2/3R] availability is lower in morbidly obese subjects.
To confirm the role of D2/3R in obesity, we measured striatal D2/3R availability, using [123I]IBZM SPECT, in 15 obese women and 15 non-obese controls.
Striatal D2/3R availability was 23% (p = 0.028) lower in obese compared with non-obese women.
This study is an independent replication of the finding that severely obese subjects have lower striatal D2/3R availability. Our findings invigorate the evidence for lower striatal D2/3R availability in obesity and confirm the role of the striatal dopaminergic reward system in obesity.
obesity; dopamine receptor availability; [123I]IBZM SPECT
Functional dyspepsia (FD) is a chronic condition characterized by upper abdominal symptoms without an identifiable cause. While the serotonergic system is thought to play a key role in the regulation of gut physiology, the role of the dopaminergic system, which is important in the regulation of visceral pain and stress, is under-studied. Therefore, this study investigated the dopaminergic system and its relationship with drinking capacity and symptoms in FD patients.
In FD patients and healthy volunteers (HV) the dopaminergic system was investigated by in-vivo assessment of central dopamine D2 receptors (D2Rs) with [123I]IBZM SPECT and by an acute, but reversible, dopamine depletion alpha-methyl-para-tyrosine (AMPT) challenge test. A nutrient drink test was performed to investigate the association between maximal ingested volume, evoked symptoms, and D2Rs.
The HV subjects comprised 12 women and 8 men (mean age 31 ± 3 years), and the FD patients comprised 5 women and 3 men (mean age 39 ± 5 years). The FD patients had a lower left plus right average striatal binding potential (BPNP) for the caudate nucleus (p = 0.02), but not for putamen (p = 0.15), which in the FD patients was correlated with maximal ingested volume (r = 0.756, p = 0.03). The D2R BPNP in the putamen was correlated with nausea (r = 0.857, p = 0.01). The acute dopamine depletion test, however, failed to reveal differences in prolactin release between the FD patients and the HV subjects.
These preliminary data suggest that chronic rather than acute alterations in the dopaminergic system may be involved in the pathogenesis of FD. Further studies are required to reproduce our novel findings and to evaluate to what extent the dopaminergic changes may be secondary to abnormalities in serotonergic pathways.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00259-011-2015-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Functional dyspepsia; [123I]IBZM SPECT; Dopamine D2 receptor; Drink test
Disturbances of the cerebral cholinergic neurotransmitter system are present in neurodegenerative disorders. SPECT or PET imaging, using radiotracers that selectively target muscarinic receptor subtypes, may be of value for in vivo evaluation of such conditions.
6β-acetoxynortropane, a potent muscarinic M2 receptor agonist, has previously demonstrated nanomolar affinity and high selectivity for this receptor. Based on this compound we synthesized four nortropane derivatives that are potentially suitable for SPECT imaging of the M2 receptor. 6β-acetoxynortropane and the novel derivatives were tested in vitro for affinity to the muscarinic M1−3 receptors. The original 6β-acetoxynortropane displayed high affinity (Ki = 70–90 nM) to M2 receptors and showed good selectivity ratios to the M1 (65-fold ratio) and the M3 (70-fold ratio) receptors. All new derivatives showed reduced affinity to the M2 subtype and loss of subtype selectivity.
It is therefore concluded that the newly synthesized derivatives are not suitable for human SPECT imaging of M2 receptors.
To investigate gender differences in basic disease characteristics, motor deterioration and nigrostriatal degeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD).
We studied 253 consecutive PD patients who were not receiving levodopa or dopamine agonists (disease duration ⩽10 years). We investigated the influence of gender and oestrogen status on: (1) age at onset, (2) presenting symptom, (3) severity and progression of motor symptoms (Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale III (UPDRS‐III) scores) and (4) amount and progression of nigrostriatal degeneration ([123I]FP‐CIT single photon emission computed tomography measurements).
Age at onset was 2.1 years later in women (53.4 years) than in men (51.3 years). In women, age at onset correlated positively with parity, age at menopause and fertile life span. Women more often presented with tremor (67%) than men (48%). Overall, patients presenting with tremor had a 3.6 year higher age at onset and a 38% slower UPDRS‐III deterioration. Mean UPDRS‐III scores at disease onset were equal for both genders, as was the rate of deterioration. Women had a 16% higher striatal [123I]FP‐CIT binding than men at symptom onset and throughout the course of PD.
Our results suggest that, in women, the development of symptomatic PD may be delayed by higher physiological striatal dopamine levels, possibly due to the activity of oestrogens. This could explain the epidemiological observations of a lower incidence and higher age at onset in women. Women also presented more often with tremor which, in turn, is associated with milder motor deterioration and striatal degeneration. Taken together, these findings suggest a more benign phenotype in women with PD.