Imaging signal transductionviaarachidonic acid in the human brain during visual stimulation, by means of positron emission tomography

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Arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6), an important second messenger, is released from membrane phospholipid following receptor mediated activation of phospholipase A2 (PLA2). This signaling process can be imaged in brain as a regional brain AA incorporation coefficientK*.


K*will be increased in brain visual areas of subjects submitted to visual stimulation.

Subjects and methods:

Regional values ofK*were measured with positron emission tomography (PET), following the intravenous injection of [1-11C]AA, in 16 healthy volunteers subjected to visual stimulation at flash frequencies 2.9 Hz (8 subjects) or 7.8 Hz (8 subjects), compared with the dark (0 Hz) condition. Regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was measured with intravenous [15O]water under comparable conditions.


During flash stimulation at 2.9 Hz or 7.8 Hz vs. 0 Hz,K*was increased significantly by 2.3-8.9% in Brodmann areas 17, 18 and 19, and in additional frontal, parietal and temporal cortical regions. rCBF was increased significantly by 3.1-22%, often in comparable regions. Increments at 7.8 Hz often exceeded those at 2.9 Hz for bothK*and rCBF. Decrements in both parameters also were produced, particularly in frontal brain regions.


AA plays a role in signaling processes provoked by visual stimulation, since visual stimulation at flash frequencies of 2.9 and 7.8 Hz compared to 0 Hz modifies bothK*for AA and rCBF in visual and related areas of the human brain. The two-stimulus condition paradigm of this study might be used with PET to image effects of other functional activations and of drugs on brain signalingviaAA.

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