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Typical cerebral metabolic patterns in neurodegenerative brain diseases


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


The differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative brain diseases on clinical grounds is difficult, especially at an early disease stage. Several studies have found specific regional differences of brain metabolism applying [18F]-fluoro-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET), suggesting that this method can assist in early differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative brain diseases.

We have studied patients who had an FDG-PET scan on clinical grounds at an early disease stage and included those with a retrospectively confirmed diagnosis according to strictly defined clinical research criteria. Ninety-six patients could be included of which 20 patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), 21 multiple system atrophy (MSA), 17 progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), 10 corticobasal degeneration (CBD), 6 dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), 15 Alzheimer's disease (AD), and 7 frontotemporal dementia (FTD). FDG PET images of each patient group were analyzed and compared to18 healthy controls using Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM5).

Disease-specific patterns of relatively decreased metabolic activity were found in PD (contralateral parietooccipital and frontal regions), MSA (bilateral putamen and cerebellar hemispheres), PSP (prefrontal cortex and caudate nucleus, thalamus, and mesencephalon), CBD (contralateral cortical regions), DLB (occipital and parietotemporal regions), AD (parietotemporal regions), and FTD (frontotemporal regions).

The integrated method addressing a spectrum of various neurodegenerative brain diseases provided means to discriminate patient groups also at early disease stages. Clinical follow-up enabled appropriate patient inclusion. This implies that an early diagnosis in individual patients can be made by comparing each subject's metabolic findings with a complete database of specific disease related patterns. © 2010 Movement Disorder Society