H. T. S. Benamer, J. Patterson, D. J. Wyper, D. M. Hadley, G. J. A. Macphee, D. G. Grosset



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Movement Disorders

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The variability in clinical features and the masking effects of drug therapy in Parkinson’s disease (PD) can affect clinical assessment of disease severity. The aim of this study was to assess the imaging of dopamine transporters using I-123-FP-CIT SPECT and its correlation with disease staging, severity, and duration. Differences between the clinical severity of the onset and non-onset side and the corresponding striatal uptake ratios were also examined. Forty-one patients with PD (nine unilateral, 32 bilateral clinical features) were studied. Clinical severity was determined by using the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Score (UPDRS). Unilateral UPDRS was calculated from unilateral arm and leg resting and action tremor, rigidity, finger taps, hand movements, alternating movements, and leg agility. I-123-FP-CIT striatal uptake was expressed as the ratio of specific:nonspecific (SP:NS) uptake for defined brain areas. Patients with PD who had unilateral symptoms showed a significant difference between the ipsilateral and contralateral SP:NS ratios in both the caudate and putamen, but there was a considerable overlap between between the two sides. This result was repeated in patients with bilateral symptoms and there was overlap of SP:NS ratios between the two groups. For the whole group of patients with PD, striatum, caudate, and putamen SP:NS ratios correlated with disease severity assessed by UPDRS and duration of disease. The SP:NS ratios correlated with the bradykinesia subscore but not with rigidity or tremor subscore. In conclusion, this study provides further evidence that the SP:NS ratio is a robust measure of disease severity correlating with duration of PD. However, variability in uptake values suggest that factors other than nigrostriatal degeneration may contribute to disease severity. Correlation with bradykinesia but not with tremor may indicate an origin for tremor outwith the dopamine transporter system. I-123-FP-CIT SPECT offers significant potential in defining the nigrostriatal changes in PD.