Synaptic Loss in Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 3 Revealed by SV2A Positron Emission Tomography

Mov Disord. 2023 Jun;38(6):978-989. doi: 10.1002/mds.29395. Epub 2023 Apr 6.


Background: Severe reduced synaptic density was observed in spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) in postmortem neuropathology, but in vivo assessment of synaptic loss remains challenging. OBJECTIVE SPINOCEREBELLAR ATAXIA TYPE 3: The objective of this study was to assess in vivo synaptic loss and its clinical correlates in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3) patients by synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2A (SV2A)-positron emission tomography (PET) imaging.

Methods: We recruited 74 SCA3 individuals including preataxic and ataxic stages and divided into two cohorts. All participants received SV2A-PET imaging using 18 F-SynVesT-1 for synaptic density assessment. Specifically, cohort 1 received standard PET procedure and quantified neurofilament light chain (NfL), and cohort 2 received simplified PET procedure for exploratory purpose. Bivariate correlation was performed between synaptic loss and clinical as well as genetic assessments.

Results: In cohort 1, significant reductions of synaptic density were observed in cerebellum and brainstem in SCA3 ataxia stage compared to preataxic stage and controls. Vermis was found significantly involved in preataxic stage compared to controls. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves highlighted SV2A of vermis, pons, and medulla differentiating preataxic stage from ataxic stage, and SV2A combined with NfL improved the performance. Synaptic density was significantly negatively correlated with disease severity in cerebellum and brainstem (International Co-operative Ataxia Rating Scale: ρ ranging from -0.467 to -0.667, P ≤ 0.002; Scale of Assessment and Rating of Ataxia: ρ ranging from -0.465 to -0.586, P ≤ 0.002). SV2A reduction tendency of cerebellum and brainstem identified in cohort 1 was observed in cohort 2 with simplified PET procedure.

Conclusions: We first identified in vivo synaptic loss was related to disease severity of SCA3, suggesting SV2A PET could be a promising clinical biomarker for disease progression of SCA3. © 2023 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Keywords: PET; SCA3; SV2A; clinical biomarker; synaptic loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ataxia
  • Humans
  • Machado-Joseph Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Pyrrolidines


  • SynVesT-1
  • Pyrrolidines
  • SV2A protein, human
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins