Mitochondrial Complex 1, Sigma 1, and Synaptic Vesicle 2A in Early Drug-Naive Parkinson's Disease

Mov Disord. 2020 Aug;35(8):1416-1427. doi: 10.1002/mds.28064. Epub 2020 Apr 29.


Background: Dysfunction of mitochondrial energy generation may contribute to neurodegeneration, leading to synaptic loss in Parkinson's disease (PD). The objective of this study was to find cross-sectional and longitudinal changes in PET markers of synaptic vesicle protein 2A, sigma 1 receptor, and mitochondrial complex 1 in drug-naive PD patients.

Methods: Twelve early drug-naive PD patients and 16 healthy controls underwent a 3-Tesla MRI and PET imaging to quantify volume of distribution of [11 C]UCB-J, [11 C]SA-4503, and [18 F]BCPP-EF for synaptic vesicle protein 2A, sigma 1 receptor, and mitochondrial complex 1, respectively. Nine PD patients completed approximately 1-year follow-up assessments.

Results: Reduced [11 C]UCB-J volume of distribution in the caudate, putamen, thalamus, brain stem, and dorsal raphe and across cortical regions was observed in drug-naive PD patients compared with healthy controls. [11 C]UCB-J volume of distribution was reduced in the locus coeruleus and substantia nigra but did not reach statistical significance. No significant differences were found in [11 C]SA-4503 and [18 F]BCPP-EF volume of distribution in PD compared with healthy controls. Lower brain stem [11 C]UCB-J volume of distribution correlated with Movement Disorder Society Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale part III and total scores. No significant longitudinal changes were identified in PD patients at follow-up compared with baseline.

Conclusions: Our findings represent the first in vivo evidence of mitochondrial, endoplasmic reticulum, and synaptic dysfunction in drug-naive PD patients. Synaptic dysfunction likely occurs early in disease pathophysiology and has relevance to symptomatology. Mitochondrial complex 1 and sigma 1 receptor pathology warrants further investigations in PD. Studies in larger cohorts with longer follow-up will determine the validity of these PET markers to track disease progression. © 2020 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Keywords: Parkinson's disease; mitochondria; molecular biomarkers; positron emission tomography; synaptic vesicle protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Synaptic Vesicles


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations