Cerebellar and brainstem hypometabolism in olivopontocerebellar atrophy detected with positron emission tomography

Ann Neurol. 1988 Mar;23(3):223-30. doi: 10.1002/ana.410230303.


We studied local cerebral metabolic rates for glucose (1CMRglc) with 18F-2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose and positron emission tomography (PET) in 30 patients with olivopontocerebellar atrophy (OPCA) and 30 age-matched control subjects without neurological disease. The diagnosis of OPCA was based on the history and physical findings and on the exclusion of other causes of cerebellar ataxia by means of laboratory investigations. Computed tomographic scans revealed some degree of atrophy of the cerebellum in most patients with OPCA, and many also had atrophy of the brainstem. PET studies in these patients revealed significant hypometabolism in the cerebellar hemispheres, cerebellar vermis, and brainstem in comparison with the normal control subjects. A significant relationship was found between the degree of atrophy and the level of 1CMRglc in the cerebellum and brainstem. Nevertheless, several patients had minimal atrophy and substantially reduced 1CMRglc, suggesting that atrophy does not fully account for the finding of hypometabolism. 1CMRglc was within normal limits for the thalamus and cerebral cortex. The data suggest that PET/1CMRglc may be useful as a diagnostic test in patients with the adult onset of cerebellar ataxia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Brain Stem / pathology
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Deoxyglucose / analogs & derivatives
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Olivopontocerebellar Atrophies / genetics
  • Olivopontocerebellar Atrophies / pathology*
  • Spinocerebellar Degenerations / pathology*
  • Thalamus / pathology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Blood Glucose
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Deoxyglucose