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Keywords:

  • inflammation;
  • microglia;
  • multiple sclerosis;
  • peripheral benzodiazepine receptor;
  • PK11195;
  • positron emission tomography

Activated microglia are involved in the immune response of multiple sclerosis (MS). The peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR) is expressed on microglia and up-regulated after neuronal injury. [11C]PK11195 is a positron emission tomography (PET) radioligand for the PBR. The objective of the present study was to investigate [11C]PK11195 imaging in MS patients and its additional value over magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) concerning the immuno-pathophysiological process. Seven healthy and 22 MS subjects were included. Semiquantitative [11C]PK11195 uptake values were assessed with normalization on cortical grey matter. Uptake in Gadolinium-lesions was significantly increased compared with normal white matter. Uptake in T2-lesions was generally decreased, suggesting a PBR down-regulation. However, uptake values increased whenever a clinical or MR-relapse was present, suggestive for a dynamic process with a transient PBR up-regulation. During disease progression, an increase of normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) uptake was found, propagating NAWM as the possible real burden of disease. In conclusion, [11C]PK11195 and PET are able to demonstrate inflammatory processes with microglial involvement in MS.