Affiliations: George-Huntington-Institute, Muenster, Germany | Department of Neurology, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany | Department of Radiology, University of Muenster, Germany | European Institute for Molecular Imaging and Department of Nuclear Medicine, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany | Department of Biomathematics, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany | Department of Experimental Animal Research Centre, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany | Department of Medical Genetics, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany | Department of Experimental Therapy, University of Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany | Department of Geriatrics, Johanniter Hospital, Bonn, Germany | Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany
Note:  Correspondence to: Ralf Reilmann, M.D., Founding Director, George-Huntington-Institute, Technology Park Muenster, Johann-Krane Weg 27, 48149 Muenster, Germany. Tel.: +49 251 788 788 11; Fax: +49 251 788 788 88; E-mail: [email protected] Both authors contributed equally.
Note:  Both authors contributed equally.
Abstract: Background: FDG-PET detects hypometabolism in premanifest and symptomatic Huntington's disease (HD). A cross-sectional study suggested that whole-brain FDG-PET is capable to detect a phenotype in transgenic (tg) HD rats. Recently, a longitudinal follow-up study showed no FDG-PET changes in tgHD rats. Both studies applied small sample sizes and analysis was limited to whole-brain or striatum. Objective: We therefore performed a follow-up study in a larger cohort of tgHD and wild-type (wt) rats encompassing several pre-defined regions of interest (ROIs) and hypothesis free voxel-by-voxel SPM analysis to clarify whether FDG-PET can detect a phenotype in tgHD rats and to determine onset and effect sizes of changes over time. Methods: N = 19 tgHD- and n = 20 wt-rats, mixed gender, were included. Repeated small animal FDG-μPET and MRI were performed at 5,10,15, and 20 months of age. ROIs encompassing entire brain, cortex, striatum, thalamus, subventricular-zone, and cerebellum were placed manually on the MRI and transferred to the co-registered μPET. Mean and maximal FDG-PET activities within ROIs were calculated and normalized to cerebellar FDG uptake. Activity and spatially normalized FDG-μPET were compared between groups on a hypothesis-free voxel-by-voxel basis using SPM. Results: FDG uptake showed changes over time in both tgHD- and wt-rats, however, there was no consistent difference between tgHD- and wt-rats in both the manual ROI and SPM analysis. Conclusions: In this transgenic rat model of HD FDG-μPET imaging does not detect significant alterations at the ages investigated. Further investigations are warranted employing other age groups and alternative imaging biomarkers for neuronal degeneration, respectively.