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J Child Neurol. 2010 Mar;25(3):336-42. doi: 10.1177/0883073809339394. Epub 2009 Sep 11.

Multimodality neuroimaging in Tourette syndrome: alpha-[11C] methyl-L-tryptophan positron emission tomography and diffusion tensor imaging studies.

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  • 1Carman and Ann Adams Department of Pediatrics, Wayne State University, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


Previous studies in Tourette syndrome have reported lateralized abnormalities of neurotransmitters and microstructure of the cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical circuit. The authors analyzed the relationship between serotonin synthesis and microstructural changes in the subcortical structures (caudate nucleus, lentiform nucleus, and thalamus) related to this circuit, using alpha-[(11)C]methyl-L-tryptophan positron emission tomography (PET) and diffusion tensor imaging, respectively, in 16 children with Tourette syndrome. Correlations between diffusion tensor imaging and alpha-[(11)C]methyl-L-tryptophan PET asymmetry values were found in the caudate nucleus. The findings suggested higher serotonin synthesis on the side of more abnormal diffusion, characterized by lower fractional anisotropy and parallel diffusivity but higher perpendicular diffusivity. Altogether, these imaging abnormalities suggest asymmetric immature microstructure in the caudate nucleus associated with abnormally increased serotonin synthesis in Tourette syndrome. The observed diffusion tensor imaging changes are likely related to abnormal connectivity in the cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical circuit, which may result in cortical disinhibition and increased serotonin synthesis; this could provide a new therapeutic target.

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