Advances in the understanding of early Huntington's disease using the functional imaging techniques of PET and SPET

Mol Med Today. 1998 Dec;4(12):532-9. doi: 10.1016/s1357-4310(98)01371-9.


The functional imaging techniques of positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission tomography (SPET) have been used to study regional brain function in Huntington's disease (HD) in vivo. Reduced striatal glucose metabolism and dopamine receptor binding are evident in all symptomatic HD patients and in approximately 50% of asymptomatic adult mutation carriers. These characteristics correlate with clinical measures of disease severity. Reduced cortical glucose metabolism and dopamine receptor binding, together with reduced striatal and cortical opioid receptor binding, have also been demonstrated in symptomatic patients with HD. Repeat PET measures of striatal function have been used to monitor the progression of this disease objectively. In the future, functional imaging will provide a valuable way of assessing the efficacy of both fetal striatal cell implants and putative neuroprotective agents, such as nerve growth factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Huntington Disease / genetics
  • Huntington Disease / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon