Abnormalities of dopaminergic neurotransmission in SCA2: A combined 123I-βCIT and 123I-IBZM SPECT study



Extrapyramidal features may occur in spinocerebellar ataxias consistent with neuropathological evidence of nigrostriatal involvement. Recently, striatal dopaminergic neurotransmission was found to be abnormal in the uncommon parkinsonian presentation of spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2). We have investigated, therefore, striatal dopamine transporter and D2 receptor function in a series of 9 patients with the more common ataxic presentation of SCA2 using single photon emission computed tomography and β-CIT as well as IBZM. Age-matched healthy subjects and patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) served as controls. All except 1 SCA2 patient exhibited slowness of limb movements without rigidity or rest tremor. In addition, cervical dystonia was present in 5 and dystonic head tremor in 2 SCA2 patients. Striatocerebellar (S/C) ratios of β-CIT binding were significantly reduced in SCA2 patients compared to control subjects, and they were within the range of PD patients. S/C ratios of IBZM binding were significantly reduced in SCA2 patients compared to control subjects. We conclude that dopaminergic neurotransmission is impaired in the ataxic presentation of SCA2, with a prominent loss of striatal dopamine transporter function. Both slowness of limb movements as well as dystonia in the ataxic SCA2 phenotype may reflect dysfunction not only at cerebellar but also at basal ganglia level. © 2004 Movement Disorder Society