, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 111-118

Multivariate cluster analysis of dynamic iodine-123 iodobenzamide SPET dopamine D2 receptor images in schizophrenia

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This paper describes the application of a multivariate statistical technique to investigate striatal dopamine D2 receptor concentrations measured by iodine-123 iodobenzamide (123I-IBZM) single-photon emission tomography (SPET). This technique enables the automatic segmentation of dynamic nuclear medicine images based on the underlying time-activity curves present in the data. Once the time-activity curves have been extracted, each pixel can be mapped back on to the underlying distribution, considerably reducing image noise. Cluster analysis has been verified using computer simulations and phantom studies. The technique has been applied to SPET images of dopamine D2 receptors in a total of 20 healthy and 20 schizophrenic volunteers (22 male, 18 female), using the ligand123I-IBZM. Following automatic image segmentation, the concentration of striatal dopamine D2 receptors shows a significant left-sided asymmetry in male schizophrenics compared with male controls. The mean left-minus-right laterality index for controls is −1.52 (95% CI −3.72−0.66) and for patients 4.04 (95% CI 1.07−7.01). Analysis of variance shows a caseby-sex-by-side interaction, withF=10.01,P=0.005. We can now demonstrate that the previously observed male sex-specific D2 receptor asymmetry in schizophrenia, which had failed to attain statistical significance, is valid. Cluster analysis of dynamic nuclear medicine studies provides a powerful tool for automatic segmentation and noise reduction of the images, removing much of the subjectivity inherent in region-of-interest analysis. The observed striatal D2 asymmetry could reflect long hypothesized disruptions in dopamine-rich cortico-striatallimbic circuits in schizophrenic males.