The status of dopamine nerve terminals in Parkinson's disease and essential tremor: a PET study with the tracer [11-C]FE-CIT
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Neuroimaging studies of the striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) are useful in the assessment of the dopaminergic system in Parkinson's disease (PD). We used positron emisson tomography (PET) and the tracer [11-C]FE-CIT to measure DAT binding in the caudate nucleus and putamen of 31 patients with PD, 5 with essential tremor and 8 healthy control subjects. Of the patients with PD, 17 were drug naive, while the others were either on levodopa or dopamine agonist monotherapy. DAT binding was significantly reduced in the caudate nucleus and to a greater extent in the putamen of PD patients compared to both healthy controls and essential tremor individuals. No overlap was observed between putamen values in PD and normals. No differences were found between controls and essential tremor subjects. These data confirm that measurements of DAT binding can provide an accurate and highly sensitive measure of degeneration in the dopamine system in PD.