Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the reproducibility in healthy volunteers of alpha-[11C]methyl-L-tryptophan (alpha[11C]MT) brain trapping imaging with positron emission tomography (PET), using volumes of interest (VOIs) and voxel-based image analysis.
Methods: Six right-handed healthy male volunteers (34.3+/-10.9 years) with a negative family history for psychiatric disorders were scanned twice in the resting condition, 22+/-17 days apart. An unbiased semiautomatic segmentation of the brain was used to define VOIs. The trapping constant K* (ml g(-1) min(-1)) for alpha[11C]MT was calculated for the whole brain and seven brain regions using the graphical method for irreversible tracers. In addition, parametric maps of K* were obtained from dynamic scans using the same method. Comparison of test and retest K* functional images was performed using SPM99. Student's paired t statistic was applied for comparisons of alpha[11C]MT brain trapping in a priori selected VOIs.
Results: alpha[11C]MT brain trapping in VOIs showed a mean variability 2.6+/-1.8% (0.3-5%) for absolute and 1.5+/-2.1% (1.4-4.1%) for normalized K*. Intraclass correlations between test and retest conditions were 0.61+/-0.34 for absolute K* values and 0.73+/-0.20 for K* values normalized by global mean. SPM99 analysis using a height threshold of p=0.05 (two tailed) and an extent threshold of 100 voxels showed no significant differences between scans.
Conclusion: Rest measurements in healthy male volunteers of the trapping constant for alpha[11C]MT, using PET, appeared to be stable during an average interval of 3 weeks.