Imaging Neuroinflammation

The benzodiazepine receptor on the mitochondria of activated microglia constitutes a biomarker for neuroinflammation. The  PET radiotracer C11-PK11195 binds to this receptor, making the use of brain images a key diagnostic tool in disease states characterized by neuroinflammation. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are two such conditions. There has been a debate if there is cell death below the amyloid plaques in AD, but it seems that the main pathology is inflammation. Other Pediatric diseases such as Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, Autism and Leukodistrophies also present with inflammation. The measure of inflammation can be used as a biomarker for disease progression and also for response to treatment and drug development. In the case of stroke prevention, imaging inflammation using  PET with FDG can visualize the carotid artery, where it seems that the more inflammation the carotid plaque has, the more it is likely to rupture and develop in an embolic stroke. Thus the measurement of carotid artery inflammation can be used to plan carotid surgery. Here is a good review paper on neuroinflammation:

Kannan S, et al. Positron Emission Tomography Imaging Neuroinflammation, Journal of Child Neurology 24 (9) 1190-1199

Adolfo Cotter, MD

Apr 27/2010

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