PET identified neuroinflammation, marked by activated microglia cells in patients with schizophrenia and in animal models with migraines, could be used to evaluate the treatment response to anti-inflammatory drugs and for diagnosis and care, according to two studies published in the November issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.
"This study shows that molecular imaging can play an important role in better understanding the processes involving psychiatric and other neurological disorders," said lead author Janine Doorduin, MSc, a researcher at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands .
"Without molecular imaging, the only way to look at inflammation in the brain, as well as other molecular processes, would be to use post-mortem brains," Doorduin added.
The researchers included seven patients within the schizophrenia spectrum who were recovering from psychosis and eight age-matched healthy volunteers. Dynamic 60-min PET scans were acquired after the injection of 11C-(R)-PK11195, an indicator of neuroinflammation.
The Dutch researchers were able to pinpoint the neuroinflammation to hippocampus, as 11C-(R)-PK11195 bound significantly higher in the hippocampus of schizophrenic patients (2.07) when compared to healthy volunteers (1.37). However, the authors noted that the MR images did not reveal any visual abnormalities.
Likewise, researchers in Japan visualized neuroinflammation in an animal model of migraine using a PET technique with 11C-PK11195. For the study, the researchers used 11C-PK11195 PET for the in vivo evaluation of neuroinflammation in a rat brain after cortical spreading depression.
"For physicians and patients, it is important to develop an objective method for the diagnosis of migraines and monitor therapeutic efficacy," said lead author Yilong Cui, PhD, a researcher at the RIKEN Center for Molecular Imaging Science in Kobe, Japan. "The present study will bring about these possibilities to us since the PET probe used in the paper has already been applied to patients in other diseases."