Thirty-one drug-naive patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) underwent 6-[18F]fluoro-L-dopa (F-dopa) positron emission tomography (PET) scan at the time of the diagnosis (baseline) and 2 years later in order to investigate F-dopa uptake in striatal and extrastriatal regions during the first years of early PD. Twenty-four healthy controls underwent one F-dopa PET scan. The regional differences in the striatal and extrastriatal regions were analyzed with statistical parametric mapping and automated region of interest analyses. Our study shows that the F-dopa uptake in unmedicated early PD is most severely decreased in the dorsal part of caudal putamen but significant decrease can be seen throughout the striatum compared with controls. During the first years of PD, there is a progressive regional decline in striatal F-dopa uptake, the dorsal part of caudal putamen being still the most severely affected region. The absolute decline is equal between the striatal subregions. This suggests that the decline of dopamine function starts from the dorsocaudal putamen, but once started, the rate of progression is equal between the subregions of the striatum. In contrast to the striatal decline, the increased cortical F-dopa uptake prevails at least during the first years of PD.
(c) 2006 Movement Disorder Society.