, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 243-257
Date: 21 Feb 2007

Imaging of Cholinergic and Monoaminergic Neurochemical Changes in Neurodegenerative Disorders

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Abstract

Positron emission tomography (PET) or single photon emission computer tomography (SPECT) imaging provides the means to study neurochemical processes in vivo. These methods have been applied to examine monoaminergic and cholinergic changes in neurodegenerative disorders. These investigations have provided important insights into disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). The most intensely studied monoaminergic transmitter is dopamine. The extent of presynaptic nigrostriatal dopaminergic denervation can be quantified in PD and may serve as a diagnostic biomarker. Dopaminergic receptor imaging may help to distinguish idiopathic PD from atypical parkinsonian disorders. Cholinergic denervation has been identified not only in AD but also in PD and more severely in parkinsonian dementia. PET or SPECT can also provide biomarkers to follow progression of disease or evaluate the effects of therapeutic interventions. Cholinergic receptor imaging is expected to play a major role in new drug development for dementing disorders.