Metabolic Correlates of Dopaminergic Loss in Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Mov Disord. 2020 Apr;35(4):595-605. doi: 10.1002/mds.27945. Epub 2019 Dec 16.


Background: Striatal dopamine deficiency and metabolic changes are well-known phenomena in dementia with Lewy bodies and can be quantified in vivo by 123 I-Ioflupane brain single-photon emission computed tomography of dopamine transporter and 18 F-fluorodesoxyglucose PET. However, the linkage between both biomarkers is ill-understood.

Objective: We used the hitherto largest study cohort of combined imaging from the European consortium to elucidate the role of both biomarkers in the pathophysiological course of dementia with Lewy bodies.

Methods: We compared striatal dopamine deficiency and glucose metabolism of 84 dementia with Lewy body patients and comparable healthy controls. After normalization of data, we tested their correlation by region-of-interest-based and voxel-based methods, controlled for study center, age, sex, education, and current cognitive impairment. Metabolic connectivity was analyzed by inter-region coefficients stratified by dopamine deficiency and compared to healthy controls.

Results: There was an inverse relationship between striatal dopamine availability and relative glucose hypermetabolism, pronounced in the basal ganglia and in limbic regions. With increasing dopamine deficiency, metabolic connectivity showed strong deteriorations in distinct brain regions implicated in disease symptoms, with greatest disruptions in the basal ganglia and limbic system, coincident with the pattern of relative hypermetabolism.

Conclusions: Relative glucose hypermetabolism and disturbed metabolic connectivity of limbic and basal ganglia circuits are metabolic correlates of dopamine deficiency in dementia with Lewy bodies. Identification of specific metabolic network alterations in patients with early dopamine deficiency may serve as an additional supporting biomarker for timely diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies. © 2019 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Keywords: Lewy body dementia; PET imaging; dopamine deficiency; glucose metabolism; metabolic connectivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dopamine
  • Humans
  • Lewy Bodies
  • Lewy Body Disease* / diagnostic imaging


  • Dopamine