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  • October 2008

    PET Scanning and Alzheimer’s Disease

    Archives of Neurology | Ville Leinonen et al.

    Article:

    Assessment of Beta-Amyloid in a Frontal Cortical Brain Biopsy Specimen by Positron Emission Tomography with Carbon 11–Labeled Pittsburgh Compound B

    Authors:

    Ville Leinonen, MD, PhD; Irina Alafuzoff, MD, PhD; Sargo Aalto, MSc; Timo Suotunen, BM; Sakari Savolainen, MD, PhD; Kjell Na° gren, PhD; Tero Tapiola, MD, PhD; Tuula Pirttilä, MD, PhD; Jaakko Rinne, MD, PhD; Juha E. Jääskeläinen, MD, PhD; Hilkka Soininen, MD, PhD; Juha O. Rinne, MD, PhD

    Journal:

    Archives of Neurology, October 2008

    Summary:

    In this study, researchers in Finland performed PET scans of the brain on 10 patients with severe dementia to determine if the non-invasive imaging technique was as effective as biopsy at spotting the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Before the PET scans were performed, biopsies were done on all the patients; six of which showed signs of beta-amyloid plaques, a common sign of Alzheimer’s. The researchers then performed a 90 minute PET scan after injecting each patient with an imaging compound that attaches to the plaque and can be seen on the scan. They found that the six patients with the Alzheimer’s related plaques had a higher uptake of the imaging compound; in other words, the brain areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease were brightly illuminated on the PET scans. This is the first study of its kind to analyze patients using both biopsy and PET scans, and the correlation between imaging compound uptake with biopsy findings points towards PET scanning as a promising non-invasive alternative to traditional biopsy in the detection of Alzheimer’s disease. Knowledge gained from this study may also allow doctors to detect the warning symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease earlier by using PET scanning rather than biopsy, and may give them the ability to more precisely monitor beta-amyloid plaque response to drug treatments as well.

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