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1.  The Bioenergetic Status Relates to Dopamine Neuron Loss in Familial PD with PINK1 Mutations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51308.
Mutations in the PINK1 gene cause autosomal recessive familial Parkinson’s disease (PD). The gene encodes a mitochondrial protein kinase that plays an important role in maintaining mitochondrial function and integrity. However, the pathophysiological link between mutation-related bioenergetic deficits and the degenerative process in dopaminergic neurons remains to be elucidated. We performed phosphorous (31P) and proton (1H) 3-T magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) in 11 members of a German family with hereditary PD due to PINK1 mutations (PARK6) compared to 23 age-matched controls. All family members had prior 18-Fluorodopa (FDOPA) positron emission tomography (PET). The striatal FDOPA uptake was correlated with quantified metabolic brain mapping in MRSI. At group level, the heterozygous PINK1 mutation carriers did not show any MRSI abnormalities relative to controls. In contrast, homozygous individuals with manifest PD had putaminal GPC, PCr, HEP and β-ATP levels well above the 2SD range of controls. Across all subjects, the FDOPA Ki values correlated positively with MI (r = 0.879, p<0.001) and inversely with β-ATP (r = −0.784, p = 0.008) and GPC concentrations (r = −0.651, p = 0.030) in the putamen. Our combined imaging data suggest that the dopaminergic deficit in this family with PD due to PINK1 mutations relates to osmolyte dysregulation, while the delivery of high energy phosphates was preserved. Our results corroborate the hypothesis that PINK1 mutations result in reduced neuronal survival, most likely due to impaired cellular stress resistance.
PMCID: PMC3519591  PMID: 23251494
2.  Topography of connections between human prefrontal cortex and mediodorsal thalamus studied with diffusion tractography 
Neuroimage  2010;51(2):555-564.
Studies in monkeys show clear anatomical and functional distinctions among networks connecting with subregions within the prefrontal cortex. Three such networks are centered on lateral orbitofrontal cortex, medial frontal and cingulate cortex, and lateral prefrontal cortex and all have been identified with distinct cognitive roles. Although these areas differ in a number of their cortical connections, some of the first anatomical evidence for these networks came from tracer studies demonstrating their distinct patterns of connectivity with the mediodorsal (MD) nucleus of the thalamus. Here, we present evidence for a similar topography of MD thalamus prefrontal connections, using non-invasive imaging and diffusion tractography (DWI–DT) in human and macaque. DWI–DT suggested that there was a high probability of interconnection between medial MD and lateral orbitofrontal cortex, between caudodorsal MD and medial frontal/cingulate cortex, and between lateral MD and lateral prefrontal cortex, in both species. Within the lateral prefrontal cortex a dorsolateral region (the principal sulcus in the macaque and middle frontal gyrus in the human) was found to have a high probability of interconnection with the MD region between the regions with a high probability of interconnection with other parts of the lateral prefrontal cortex and with the lateral orbitofrontal cortex. In addition to suggesting that the thalamic connectivity in the macaque is a good guide to human prefrontal cortex, and therefore that there are likely to be similarities in the cognitive roles played by the prefrontal areas in both species, the present results are also the first to provide insight into the topography of projections of an individual thalamic nucleus in the human brain.
PMCID: PMC2877805  PMID: 20206702
Anatomy; DTI; Human; Macaque; Thalamus
3.  [11C]-l-Methionine positron emission tomography in the management of children and young adults with brain tumors 
Journal of Neuro-Oncology  2009;96(2):231-239.
Only a few Methyl-[11C]-l-methionine (MET) positron emission tomography (PET) studies have focused on children and young adults with brain neoplasm. Due to radiation exposure, long scan acquisition time, and the need for sedation in young children MET-PET studies should be restricted to this group of patients when a decision for further therapy is not possible from routine diagnostic procedures alone, e.g., structural imaging. We investigated the diagnostic accuracy of MET-PET for the differentiation between tumorous and non-tumorous lesions in this group of patients. Forty eight MET-PET scans from 39 patients aged from 2 to 21 years (mean 15 ± 5.0 years) were analyzed. The MET tumor-uptake relative to a corresponding control region was calculated. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) was performed to determine the MET-uptake value that best distinguishes tumorous from non-tumorous brain lesions. A differentiation between tumorous (n = 39) and non-tumorous brain lesions (n = 9) was possible at a threshold of 1.48 of relative MET-uptake with a sensitivity of 83% and a specificity of 92%, respectively. A differentiation between high grade malignant lesions (mean MET-uptake = 2.00 ± 0.46) and low grade tumors (mean MET-uptake = 1.84 ± 0.31) was not possible. There was a significant difference in MET-uptake between the histologically homogeneous subgroups of astrocytoma WHO grade II and anaplastic astrocytoma WHO grade III (P = 0.02). MET-PET might be a useful tool to differentiate tumorous from non-tumorous lesions in children and young adults when a decision for further therapy is difficult or impossible from routine structural imaging procedures alone.
PMCID: PMC2808525  PMID: 19575148
Brain tumor; Children; PET; Methionine; Molecular imaging

Results 1-3 (3)