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Brain Res Bull. 2007 Apr 30;72(2-3):148-51. Epub 2006 Nov 27.

Imaging microglial activation in Huntington's disease.

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Division of Neuroscience and Psychological Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College London, UK.


Activated microglia have been proposed to play a major role in the pathogenesis of Huntington's Disease (HD). PK11195 is a ligand which binds selectively to peripheral benzodiazepine binding sites, a type of receptor selectively expressed by activated microglia in the central nervous system. Using (11)C-(R)-PK11195 positron emission tomography (PET), we have recently shown in vivo evidence of increased microglial activation in both symptomatic and presymptomatic HD gene carriers and that the degree of microglial activation in the striatum correlates with the severity of striatal dopamine D2 receptor dysfunction measured with (11)C-raclopride PET. Our findings indicate that microglial activation is an early process in the HD pathology, occurring before the onset of symptoms. The close spatial and temporal relationship between microglial activation and neuronal dysfunction lends further support to the pathogenic link between the two processes in HD. Further longitudinal studies are needed to fully elucidate this link.

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