Transcranial sonography and [123I]FP-CIT SPECT disclose complementary aspects of Parkinson's disease

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Abstract

Hyperechogenic signal of substantia nigra (SN) in transcranial sonography (TCS) and reduced striatal uptake in FP-CIT SPECT are common findings in idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD). But so far it is unknown whether the extent of SN hyperechogenicity represents a correlate for the degeneration of presynaptic dopaminergic neurons in PD. We performed TCS and 123I-labelled N-(3-fluoropropyl)-2ß-carbomethoxy-3ß-(4-iodophenyl)nortropane ([123I]FP-CIT) SPECT in 53 patients with PD. Striatal FP-CIT uptake was quantified by measuring the striatal/posterior lobe binding of [123I]FP-CIT. SN echogenicity was quantified by planimetric measurement of the maximum extension of hyperechogenic signals. We found no correlation between striatal FP-CIT uptake and echogenicity of the SN, neither contralateral to the clinically more affected body side (r=+0.08, P=0.57; Pearson's correlation) nor ipsilateral (r=+0.01; P=0.92). Our data show that the extent of SN hyperechogenicity does not correlate with the degeneration of presynaptic dopaminergic nerve terminals. Obviously SN hyperechogenicity and degeneration of presynaptic dopaminergic nerve terminals exist independently from each other and may be based on different pathomechanisms.

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