Drug-naive patients with Parkinson's disease in Hoehn and Yahr stages I and II show a bilateral decrease in striatal dopamine transporters as revealed by [123I]beta-CIT SPECT

J Neurol. 1998 Jan;245(1):14-20. doi: 10.1007/s004150050168.


Ten healthy subjects and 16 patients with early Parkinson's disease (PD) were examined with single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and [123I]beta-CIT, a ligand for the dopamine (DA) transporter. Only drug-naive patients were examined since the expression of and binding to DA transporters may be influenced by dopaminergic medication. The main finding was a significant reduction in [123I]beta-CIT binding in the ipsi- and contralateral striatal regions, especially in the putamen, which showed a mean reduction of 65% of the control mean. Discriminant function analysis of the putaminal [123I]beta-CIT binding measures classified 100% of the cases in the correct group. Disease severity correlated negatively and highly significantly with the binding measures. Tremor ratings did not correlate with the SPECT measures, whereas rigidity, and to a lesser extent bradykinesia, did. Patients with unilateral PD showed a bilateral loss of striatal DA transporters. Our findings indicate that with [123I]beta-CIT SPECT it is possible to diagnose PD in subjects with very mild symptoms and signs. Moreover, finding a bilateral loss of striatal DA transporters in patients with unilateral PD also suggests that it may be possible to identify subjects in the preclinical phase of the disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cocaine / analogs & derivatives
  • Corpus Striatum / diagnostic imaging
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism*
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Disease Progression
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • 2beta-carbomethoxy-3beta-(4-iodophenyl)tropane
  • Cocaine
  • Dopamine