Positron emission tomography studies on the dopaminergic system and striatal opioid binding in the olivopontocerebellar atrophy variant of multiple system atrophy



Ten patients with sporadic olivopontocerebellar atrophy and autonomic failure were studied with positron emission tomography. Subjects underwent both an {11C}diprenorphine and an {18F}fluorodopa scan. The mean caudateoccipital uptake ratio for {11C}diprenorphine was significantly reduced to 88% and the putamen-occipital uptake ratio to 85% of the control values. Individually, 4 of the 10 patients had significantly reduced opioid binding in the putamen. Mean putamen {18F}fluorodopa uptake was significantly diminished (to 71% of the control mean); individually 7 patients had significantly reduced uptake. There was a significant positive correlation between putamen-occipital uptake ratios for {11C}diprenorphine and putamen uptake of {18F}fluorodopa. Our results suggest that subclinical nigrostriatal dysfunction is present in the majority of patients with sporadic olivopontocerebellar atrophy, in accordance with it being part of the spectrum of multiple system atrophy.