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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2015 May;52:56-73. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.02.002. Epub 2015 Feb 12.

A systematic review of molecular imaging (PET and SPECT) in autism spectrum disorder: current state and future research opportunities.

Author information

1
A.A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA, USA; Harvard Medical School, Harvard, Boston, MA, USA.
2
A.A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA, USA.
3
Lurie Center for Autism, Department of Pediatrics, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Lexington, MA, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
4
A.A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA, USA; Harvard Medical School, Harvard, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: hooker@martinos.org.

Abstract

Non-invasive positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) are techniques used to quantify molecular interactions, biological processes and protein concentration and distribution. In the central nervous system, these molecular imaging techniques can provide critical insights into neurotransmitter receptors and their occupancy by neurotransmitters or drugs. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of studies that have investigated neurotransmitters in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), while earlier studies mostly focused on cerebral blood flow and glucose metabolism. The underlying and contributing mechanisms of ASD are largely undetermined and ASD diagnosis relies on the behavioral phenotype. Discovery of biochemical endophenotypes would represent a milestone in autism research that could potentially lead to ASD subtype stratification and the development of novel therapeutic drugs. This review characterizes the prior use of molecular imaging by PET and SPECT in ASD, addresses methodological challenges and highlights areas of future opportunity for contributions from molecular imaging to understand ASD pathophysiology.

KEYWORDS:

Autism spectrum disorder; Molecular imaging; Neuroimaging; Positron emission tomography (PET); Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)

PMID:
25684726
DOI:
10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.02.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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