JNM: PET sheds light on Parkinsons following dopamine cell transplantation

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Research published in this month's Journal of Nuclear Medicine suggests that an increased brain uptake of 18F-fluorodopa (18F-FDOPA) following dopamine cell transplantation correlates with improved motor skills and brain function in Parkinson’s disease patients.

The study showed that clinical benefit and graft viability were sustained up to four years after human embryonic dopaminergic tissue transplantation and imaging changes correlated with clinical outcome over the entire posttransplantation time course.

The study included 33 subjects who originally participated in a one-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of embryonic dopaminergic cell implantation and were followed for two years, as well as 15 subjects who were followed for four years after transplantation.

Yilong Ma, PhD, and colleagues at the Center for Neurosciences at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, N.Y, found that Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale motor ratings declined over time after transplantation and clinical improvement correlated with the retention of PET signal.

“Significant increases in putamen 18F-FDOPA uptake were evident at all post transplantation time points and were not influenced by either age or sex," said Ma.

"Comprehensive long-term clinical follow up, together with molecular imaging, allows for a more realistic appraisal of this kind of intervention for Parkinson’s disease," said co-investigator David Eidelberg, MD, director of the center for neurosciences at the Feinstein Institute.

"This work provides a valuable template for conducting imaging-based trials of cell transplantation for Parkinson’s disease and perhaps other neurodegenerative disorders," noted Ma. "It offers guidance in the design of this type of trial, particularly with respect to the use of quantitative imaging as an adjunct to clinical assessments."