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Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2015 Jun;42(7):1062-70. doi: 10.1007/s00259-015-3039-0. Epub 2015 Mar 28.

Brain (18)F-DOPA PET and cognition in de novo Parkinson's disease.

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Clinical Neurology, Department of Neuroscience (DINOGMI), University of Genoa and IRCCS AOU San Martino-IST, Largo P Daneo, 3, 16132, Genoa, Italy.



The role of mesocortical dopaminergic pathways in the cognitive function of patients with early Parkinson's disease (PD) needs to be further clarified.


The study groups comprised 15 drug-naive patients with de novo PD and 10 patients with essential tremor (controls) who underwent (18)F-DOPA PET (static acquisition, normalization on mean cerebellar counts) and an extended neuropsychological test battery. Factor analysis with varimax rotation was applied to the neuropsychological test scores, to yield five factors from 16 original scores, which explained 82 % of the total variance. Correlations between cognitive factors and (18)F-DOPA uptake were assessed with SPM8, taking age and gender as nuisance variables.


(18)F-DOPA uptake was significantly lower in PD patients than in controls in the bilateral striatum, mainly in the more affected (right) hemisphere, and in a small right temporal region. Significant positive correlations were found only in PD patients between the executive factor and (18)F-DOPA uptake in the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the middle frontal gyrus, between the verbal fluency factor and (18)F-DOPA uptake in left BA 46 and the bilateral striatum, and between the visuospatial factor and (18)F-DOPA uptake in the left ACC and bilateral striatum. No correlations were found between (18)F-DOPA uptake and either the verbal memory factor or the abstraction-working memory factor.


These data clarify the role of the mesocortical dopaminergic pathways in cognitive function in early PD, highlighting the medial frontal lobe, anterior cingulate, and left BA 46 as the main sites of cortical correlation with executive and language functions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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