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Neurobiol Dis. 2008 Jul;31(1):102-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2008.03.012. Epub 2008 Apr 20.

A voxel-based PET study of dopamine transporters in Parkinson's disease: relevance of age at onset.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine, Scientific Institute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.


We used positron emission tomography (PET) and the dopamine transporter (DAT) ligand [(11)C]FECIT to measure loss of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons in early phase of early onset (EOPD) and late onset Parkinson's disease (LOPD). The analysis was carried out with both regions of interest and voxelwise method (SPM2), at group and single subject levels. Genetic analysis tested for the mutations occurring most frequently in Caucasian population. A significant, bilateral, asymmetric DAT reduction was observed in both EOPD and LOPD. Noteworthy, the side and severity of DAT binding reduction significantly correlated with the severity and asymmetry of motor clinical scores. The two EOPD patients carrying mutations in the PARK2 and PARK6 genes, respectively, displayed the lowest values, bilaterally. This work demonstrates that severity of nigrostriatal damage in early disease phase of sporadic PD is not dependent on age at onset. Genetically determined PD is associated with more severe and widespread dopaminergic impairment.

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