Validation of nigrostriatal positron emission tomography measures: critical limits.
ABSTRACT: Molecular imaging and clinical endpoints are frequently discordant in Parkinson disease clinical trials, raising questions about validity of these imaging measures to reflect disease severity. We compared striatal uptake for 3 positron emission tomography (PET) tracers with in vitro measures of nigral cell counts and striatal dopamine in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-treated monkeys.Sixteen macaques had magnetic resonance imaging and baseline PETs using 6-[18F]fluorodopa (FD), [11C]dihydrotetrabenazine (DTBZ), and 2beta-[11 C]carbomethoxy-3beta-(4-fluorophenyl)tropane (CFT). MPTP (0-0.31 mg/kg) infused unilaterally via the internal carotid artery produced stable hemiparkinsonism by 3 weeks. After 8 weeks, PETs were repeated and animals were euthanized for striatal dopamine measurements and unbiased counts of tyrosine hydroxylase-stained nigral cells.Striatal uptake for each radiotracer (FD, DTBZ, CFT) correlated with stereologic nigral cell counts only for nigral loss<50% (r2=0.84, r2=0.86, r2=0.87, p<0.001 respectively; n=10). In contrast, striatal uptake correlated with striatal dopamine over the full range of dopamine depletion (r2=0.95, r2=0.94, r2=0.94, p<0.001; n=16). Interestingly, indices of striatal uptake of FD, DTBZ, and CFT correlated strongly with each other (r2=0.98, p<0.001).Tracer uptake correlated with nigral neurons only when nigral loss was <50%. This along with previous work demonstrating that nigral cell counts correlate strongly with parkinsonism ratings may explain discordant results between neuroimaging and clinical endpoints. Furthermore, strong correlations among striatal uptake for these tracers support lack of differential regulation of decarboxylase activity (FD), vesicular monoamine transporter type 2 (DTBZ), and dopamine transporter (CFT) within 2 months after nigrostriatal injury.
Project description:Background: Brain development and maturation in adolescence is a complex process with active changes of metabolic and neurotransmission pathways. Positron emission tomography (PET) is a useful imaging modality for tracking metabolic and functional changes in adolescent brain. In this study, changes of glucose metabolism, expression of vesicular monoamine transporter 2 and dopamine transporter during adolescent brain development in rats were investigated with PET/CT. Methods: A longitudinal PET/CT study of age-dependent changes of VMAT2, DAT and glucose metabolism in adolescent brain was conducted in a group of Wistar rats (n = 6) post sequential intravenous injection of 18F-PF-(+)-DTBZ, 11C-CFT, and 18F-FDG, respectively. PET acquisition was performed at 2, 4, 9, and 12 months of age. Radiotracer uptake in different brain regions, including the striatum, cerebellum, and hippocampus, were quantified and recorded as Standardized uptake value (SUV) and striatal specific uptake ratio (SUVR: SUV in brain regions/SUV in cerebellum). Results: Variable uptake of 18F-PF-(+)-DTBZ and 11C-CFT were detected, with highest level uptake in the striatum and accumbens. There was significant age-dependent increase of 18F-PF-(+)-DTBZ and 11C-CFT uptake in the striatum from 2 months of age (SUV: 1.36 ± 0.22, 1.37 ± 0.39, respectively), to 4 months (SUV: 2.22 ± 0.29, 2.04 ± 0.33), 9 months (1.98 ± 0.34, 2.09 ± 0.18), 12 months (SUV: 1.93 ± 0.19, 2.00 ± 0.17) of age, SUV of 18F-FDG also increased from 2 months of age to older ages (SUV in the striatum: 3.71 ± 0.78 at 2 month, 5.28 ± 0.81, 5.14 ± 0.73, 4.94 ± 0.50 at 4, 9, 12 month, respectively). Conclusion: Age-dependent increases of striatal of 18F-FDG, 18F-PF-(+)-DTBZ, and 11C-CFT uptake were detected in rats from 2 to 4 month of age, demonstrating striatal development presents over the first 4 months of age. Four months of age can be considered a safe threshold to launch brain disease studies for exclusion of confusion of continuing tissue development. These findings support further investigation of age-dependent changes in expression of DAT, VMAT2, and glucose metabolism for their potential use as a new imaging biomarker for study of brain development and functional maturation.
Project description:Apathy commonly occurs in Parkinson disease (PD) patients; however, the role of dopamine in the pathophysiology of apathy remains elusive. We previously demonstrated that dopaminergic dysfunction within the ventral tegmental area (VTA)-nucleus accumbens (NAcc) pathway contributes to the manifestation of apathetic behaviors in monkeys treated with the selective dopaminergic neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). We now extend these studies to identify dopaminergic dysfunction in cortical regions that correlate with development of apathetic behaviors. Specifically, we measured the effects of MPTP on monkeys' willingness to attempt goal directed behaviors, which is distinct from their ability to perform tasks. A total of 16 monkeys had baseline magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), using 6-[18F]fluorodopa (FD), [11C]dihydrotetrabenazine (DTBZ), and 2?-[11C]carbomethoxy-3?-(4-fluorophenyl)tropane (CFT). The monkeys received unilateral infusion of different doses of MPTP (0 - 0.31mg/kg) to produce a wide range of severity of motor parkinsonism. Eight weeks after MPTP, PET scans were repeated and animals were euthanized. Apathetic behavior and motor impairments were assessed blindly both pre- and post-MPTP infusion. Apathy scores were compared to in vitro and in vivo dopaminergic measures. Apathy scores increased following MPTP and correlated with PET measures of dopaminergic terminals (DTBZ or CFT) in dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC), and insular cortex (IC). Among all the cortical regions assessed, forward step-wise regression analyses indicated that only stereologic cell counts in VTA, and not counts in the substantia nigra (SN), predict dopamine transporter changes in IC. Our findings suggest that dopaminergic dysfunction within the VTA-IC pathway plays a role in the manifestation of apathetic behaviors in MPTP-lesioned primates.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Interpretation of diffusion MRI in the living brain requires validation against gold standard histological measures. We compared diffusion values of the nigrostriatal tract to PET and histological results in non-human primates (NHPs) with varying degrees of unilateral nigrostriatal injury induced by MPTP, a toxin selective for dopaminergic neurons. METHODS:Sixteen NHPs had MRI and PET scans of three different presynaptic radioligands and blinded video-based motor ratings before and after unilateral carotid artery infusion of variable doses of MPTP. Diffusion measures of connections between midbrain and striatum were calculated. Then animals were euthanized to quantify striatal dopamine concentration, stereologic measures of striatal tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunostained fiber density and unbiased stereologic counts of TH stained nigral cells. RESULTS:Diffusion measures correlated with MPTP dose, nigral TH-positive cell bodies and striatal TH-positive fiber density but did not correlate with in vitro nigrostriatal terminal field measures or in vivo PET measures of striatal uptake of presynaptic markers. Once nigral TH cell count loss exceeded 50% the stereologic terminal field measures reached a near zero floor effect but the diffusion measures continued to correlate with nigral cell counts. CONCLUSION:Diffusion measures in the nigrostriatal tract correlate with nigral dopamine neurons and striatal fiber density, but have the same relationship to terminal field measures as a previous report of striatal PET measures of presynaptic neurons. These diffusion measures have the potential to act as non-invasive index of the severity of nigrostriatal injury. Diffusion imaging of the nigrostriatal tract could potentially have diagnostic value in humans with Parkinson disease or related disorders.
Project description:Elevated in vivo markers of presynaptic striatal dopamine activity have been a consistent finding in schizophrenia, and include a large effect size elevation in dopamine synthesis capacity. However, it is not known if the dopaminergic dysfunction is limited to the striatal terminals of dopamine neurons, or is also evident in the dopamine neuron cell bodies, which mostly originate in the substantia nigra. The aim of our studies was therefore to determine whether dopamine synthesis capacity is altered in the substantia nigra of people with schizophrenia, and how this relates to symptoms. In a post-mortem study, a semi-quantitative analysis of tyrosine hydroxylase staining was conducted in nigral dopaminergic cells from post-mortem tissue from patients with schizophrenia (n = 12), major depressive disorder (n = 13) and matched control subjects (n = 13). In an in vivo imaging study, nigral and striatal dopaminergic function was measured in patients with schizophrenia (n = 29) and matched healthy control subjects (n = 29) using (18)F-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine ((18)F-DOPA) positron emission tomography. In the post-mortem study we found that tyrosine hydroxylase staining was significantly increased in nigral dopaminergic neurons in schizophrenia compared with both control subjects (P < 0.001) and major depressive disorder (P < 0.001). There was no significant difference in tyrosine hydroxylase staining between control subjects and patients with major depressive disorder, indicating that the elevation in schizophrenia is not a non-specific indicator of psychiatric illness. In the in vivo imaging study we found that (18)F-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine uptake was elevated in both the substantia nigra and in the striatum of patients with schizophrenia (effect sizes = 0.85, P = 0.003 and 1.14, P < 0.0001, respectively) and, in the voxel-based analysis, was elevated in the right nigra (P < 0.05 corrected for family wise-error). Furthermore, nigral (18)F-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine uptake was positively related with the severity of symptoms (r = 0.39, P = 0.035) in patients. However, whereas nigral and striatal (18)F-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine uptake were positively related in control subjects (r = 0.63, P < 0.001), this was not the case in patients (r = 0.30, P = 0.11). These findings indicate that elevated dopamine synthesis capacity is seen in the nigral origin of dopamine neurons as well as their striatal terminals in schizophrenia, and is linked to symptom severity in patients.
Project description:The positron emission tomography (PET) tracer 2?-carbomethoxy-3?-(4-chlorophenyl)-8-(2-[18F]-fluoroethyl)-nortropane ((18)F-FECNT) is a highly specific ligand for dopamine transporter (DAT) that yields higher peak striatum-to-cerebellum ratios and offers more favorable kinetics than most (18)F-radiolabeled DAT ligands currently available. The goal of this study is to validate the use of (18)F-FECNT as a PET radiotracer to assess the degree of striatal dopamine terminals denervation and midbrain dopaminergic cell loss in MPTP-treated parkinsonian monkeys. Three rhesus monkeys received weekly injections of MPTP (0.2-0.5 mg/kg) for 21 weeks, which resulted in the progressive development of a moderate level of parkinsonism. We carried out (18)F-FECNT PET at baseline (twice; 10 weeks apart) and at week 21 post-MPTP injections. Postmortem stereological cell counts of dopaminergic neurons in the ventral midbrain, and intensity measurements of DAT and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactivity in the striatum were performed and correlated with striatal and ventral midbrain PET data. Three additional monkeys were used as controls for midbrain dopaminergic cell counts, and striatal DAT or TH immunoreactivity measurements. The correlation and coefficient of variance between (18)F-FECNT test-retest specific uptake ratios were 0.99 (R²) and 2.65%, respectively. The (18)F-FECNT binding potential of the ventral midbrain and striatal regions was tightly correlated with postmortem stereological cell counts of nigral dopaminergic neurons (R²=0.91), and striatal DAT (R²=0.83) or TH (R²=0.88) immunoreactivity intensity measurements. These findings demonstrate that (18)F-FECNT is a highly sensitive PET imaging ligand to quantify both striatal dopamine denervation and midbrain dopaminergic cell loss associated with parkinsonism.
Project description:The development of the striatum dopamine (DA) system through human adolescence, a time of increased sensation seeking and vulnerability to the emergence of psychopathology, has been difficult to study due to pediatric restrictions on direct in vivo assessments of DA. Here, we applied neuroimaging in a longitudinal sample of n?=?146 participants aged 12-30. R2', an MR measure of tissue iron which co-localizes with DA vesicles and is necessary for DA synthesis, was assessed across the sample. In the 18-30 year-olds (n?=?79) we also performed PET using [11C]dihydrotetrabenazine (DTBZ), a measure of presynaptic vesicular DA storage, and [11C]raclopride (RAC), an indicator of D2/D3 receptor availability. We observed decreases in D2/D3 receptor availability with age, while presynaptic vesicular DA storage (as measured by DTBZ), which was significantly associated with R2' (standardized coefficient?=?0.29, 95% CI?=?[0.11, 0.48]), was developmentally stable by age 18. Our results provide new evidence for maturational specialization of the striatal DA system through adolescence.
Project description:Mutations in the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene are the most common genetic cause of Parkinson's disease. Here, we investigated whether the G2019S LRRK2 mutation causes morphological and/or functional changes at nigro-striatal dopamine neurons. Density of striatal dopaminergic terminals, nigral cell counts, tyrosine hydroxylase protein levels as well as exocytotic dopamine release measured in striatal synaptosomes, or striatal extracellular dopamine levels monitored by in vivo microdialysis were similar between ?12-month-old G2019S knock-in mice and wild-type controls. In vivo striatal dopamine release was insensitive to the LRRK2 inhibitor Nov-LRRK2-11, and was elevated by the membrane dopamine transporter blocker GBR-12783. However, G2019S knock-in mice showed a blunted neurochemical and motor activation response to GBR-12783 compared to wild-type controls. Western blot and dopamine uptake analysis revealed an increase in dopamine transporter levels and activity in the striatum of 12-month-old G2019S KI mice. This phenotype correlated with a reduction in vesicular monoamine transporter 2 levels and an enhancement of vesicular dopamine uptake, which was consistent with greater resistance to reserpine-induced hypolocomotion. These changes were not observed in 3-month-old mice. Finally, Western blot analysis revealed no genotype difference in striatal levels of endogenous ?-synuclein or ?-synuclein bound to DOPAL (a toxic metabolite of dopamine). However, Serine129-phosphorylated ?-synuclein levels were higher in 12-month-old G2019S knock-in mice. Immunohistochemistry confirmed this finding, also showing no genotype difference in 3-month-old mice. We conclude that the G2019S mutation causes progressive dysfunctions of dopamine transporters, along with Serine129-phosphorylated ?-synuclein overload, at striatal dopaminergic terminals, which are not associated with dopamine homeostasis dysregulation or neuron loss but might contribute to intrinsic dopaminergic terminal vulnerability. We propose G2019S knock-in mice as a presymptomatic Parkinson's disease model, useful to investigate the pathogenic interaction among genetics, aging, and internal or environmental factors leading to the disease.
Project description:Evidence suggests that synapses are affected first in Parkinson's disease (PD). Here, we tested the claim that pathological accumulation of ?-synuclein, and subsequent synaptic disruption, occur in absence of dopaminergic neuron loss in PD. We determined early synaptic changes in rats that overexpress human ?-synuclein by local injection of viral-vectors in midbrain. We aimed to achieve ?-synuclein levels sufficient to induce terminal pathology without significant loss of nigral neurons. We tested synaptic disruption in vivo by analyzing motor defects and binding of a positron emission tomography (PET) radioligand to the vesicular monoamine transporter 2, (VMAT2), [11C]dihydrotetrabenazine (DTBZ). Animals overexpressing ?-synuclein had progressive motor impairment and, 12 weeks post-surgery, showed asymmetric in vivo striatal DTBZ binding. The PET images matched ligand binding in post-mortem tissue, and histological markers of dopaminergic integrity. Histology confirmed the absence of nigral cell death with concomitant significant loss of striatal terminals. Progressive aggregation of proteinase-K resistant and Ser129-phosphorylated ?-synuclein was observed in dopaminergic terminals, in dystrophic swellings that resembled axonal spheroids and contained mitochondria and vesicular proteins. In conclusion, pathological ?-synuclein in nigro-striatal axonal terminals leads to early axonal pathology, synaptic disruption, dysfunction of dopaminergic neurotransmission, motor impairment, and measurable change of VMAT2 in the absence of cell loss.
Project description:Longitudinal measurements of dopamine (DA) uptake and turnover in transgenic rodents may be critical when developing disease-modifying therapies for Parkinson's disease (PD). We demonstrate methodology for such measurements using [(18)F]fluoro-3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine ([(18)F]FDOPA) positron emission tomography (PET). The method was applied to 6-hydroxydopamine lesioned rats, providing the first PET-derived estimates of DA turnover for this species. Control (n=4) and unilaterally lesioned (n=11) rats were imaged multiple times. Kinetic modeling was performed using extended Patlak, incorporating a k(loss) term for metabolite washout, and modified Logan methods. Dopaminergic terminal loss was measured via [(11)C]-(+)-dihydrotetrabenazine (DTBZ) PET. Clear striatal [(18)F]FDOPA uptake was observed. In the lesioned striatum the effective DA turnover increased, shown by a reduced effective distribution volume ratio (EDVR) for [(18)F]FDOPA. Effective distribution volume ratio correlated (r>0.9) with the [(11)C]DTBZ binding potential (BP(ND)). The uptake and trapping rate (k(ref)) decreased after lesioning, but relatively less so than [(11)C]DTBZ BP(ND). For normal controls, striatal estimates were k(ref)=0.037±0.005 per minute, EDVR=1.07±0.22 and k(loss)=0.024±0.003 per minute (30 minutes turnover half-time), with repeatability (coefficient of variation) ≤11%. [(18)F]fluoro-3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine PET enables measurements of DA turnover in the rat, which is useful for developing novel therapies for PD.
Project description:Vacuolar protein sorting 35 (VPS35) is a core component of the retromer trimer required for endosomal membrane-associated protein trafficking. The discovery of a missense mutation, Vps35 p.D620N implicates retromer dysfunction in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). We have characterized a knock-in mouse with a Vps35 p.D620N substitution (hereafter referred to as VKI) at 3 months of age. Standardized behavioral testing did not observe overt movement disorder. Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive nigral neuron counts and terminal expression in striata were comparable across genotypes. Fast scan cyclic voltammetry revealed increased dopamine release in VKI striatal slices. While extracellular dopamine collected via striatal microdialysis of freely moving animals was comparable across genotypes, the ratio of dopamine metabolites to dopamine suggests increased dopamine turnover in VKI homozygous mice. Western blot of striatal proteins revealed a genotype-dependent decrease in dopamine transporter (DAT) along with an increase in vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2), albeit independent of changes in other synaptic markers. The reduction in DAT was further supported by immunohistochemical analysis. The data show that the dopaminergic system of VKI mice is profoundly altered relative to wild-type littermates. We conclude early synaptic dysfunction contributes to age-related pathophysiology in the nigrostriatal system that may lead to parkinsonism in man.