Cortical motor-sensory hypometabolism in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a PET study

J Comput Assist Tomogr. Jul-Aug 1988;12(4):630-6. doi: 10.1097/00004728-198807000-00019.


We previously reported generalized cerebral glucose hypometabolism in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients with upper motor neuron disease, using positron emission tomography (PET) with [18F]2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose. The present article presents a more detailed regional analysis of the hypometabolism, including measurements of the motor-sensory cortex at higher levels than used earlier. The analysis is based on 19 PET studies of 12 patients with ALS, four of whom had only lower motor neuron involvement, and 11 studies of age-matched control subjects. A brain size correction was included to eliminate differences in metabolism related to brain size but not to pathology. The eight ALS patients with both upper and lower motor neuron disease showed generalized hypometabolism, compared with the normal control subjects, that was greatest in the motor-sensory cortex and putamen. The motor-sensory deficit was strongly correlated with length of disease, and a marked sequential reduction was seen in repeat studies on four of the patients. There was also significant right-left asymmetry in these scans. No cerebral hypometabolism was seen in the four ALS patients without upper motor neuron involvement. Although the observed motor-sensory deficit in ALS is consistent with histopathological findings, the more generalized hypometabolism and the asymmetry suggest more widespread effects.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Motor Cortex / metabolism*
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*