FDG μPET Fails to Detect a Disease-Specific Phenotype in Rats Transgenic for Huntington's Disease – A 15 Months Follow-up Study

J Huntingtons Dis. 2015;4(1):37-47.


Background: FDG-PET detects hypometabolism in premanifest and symptomatic Huntington's disease (HD). A cross-sectional study suggested that whole-brain FDG-PET is capable to detect a phenotype in transgenic (tg) HD rats. Recently, a longitudinal follow-up study showed no FDG-PET changes in tgHD rats. Both studies applied small sample sizes and analysis was limited to whole-brain or striatum.

Objective: We therefore performed a follow-up study in a larger cohort of tgHD and wild-type (wt) rats encompassing several pre-defined regions of interest (ROIs) and hypothesis free voxel-by-voxel SPM analysis to clarify whether FDG-PET can detect a phenotype in tgHD rats and to determine onset …and effect sizes of changes over time.

Methods: N = 19 tgHD- and n = 20 wt-rats, mixed gender, were included. Repeated small animal FDG-μPET and MRI were performed at 5,10,15, and 20 months of age. ROIs encompassing entire brain, cortex, striatum, thalamus, subventricular-zone, and cerebellum were placed manually on the MRI and transferred to the co-registered μPET. Mean and maximal FDG-PET activities within ROIs were calculated and normalized to cerebellar FDG uptake. Activity and spatially normalized FDG-μPET were compared between groups on a hypothesis-free voxel-by-voxel basis using SPM.

Results: FDG uptake showed changes over time in both tgHD- and wt-rats, however, there was no consistent difference between tgHD- and wt-rats in both the manual ROI and SPM analysis.

Conclusions: In this transgenic rat model of HD FDG-μPET imaging does not detect significant alterations at the ages investigated. Further investigations are warranted employing other age groups and alternative imaging biomarkers for neuronal degeneration, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Huntington Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Huntington Disease / pathology
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Rats


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18