In Vivo Tomographic Imaging Studies of Neurodegeneration and Neuroprotection: A Review

  • Rikki N. Waterhouse
  • Jun Zhao
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 399)


Noninvasive tomographic imaging methods including positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) are extremely sensitive and are capable of measuring biochemical processes that occur at concentrations in the nanomolar range. Inherent to neurodegenerative processes is neuronal loss. Thus, PET or SPECT monitoring of biochemical processes altered by neuronal loss (changes in neurotransmitter turnover, alterations in receptor, transporter or enzyme concentrations) can provide unique information not attainable by other methods. Such imaging techniques can also be used to longtitudinally monitor the effects of neuroprotective treatments. This review highlights current imaging probes used to evaluate patients with specific neurodegenerative disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Chorea), including those that image receptors of the dopaminergic, cholinergic and glutamatergic systems. Areas of future research focus are also defined. It is clear that monitoring the progression of neurodegenerative disorders and the impact of neuroprotective treatments are two different but related goals for which noninvasive imaging via PET and SPECT methods plays a powerful and unique role.

Key Words

Positron emission tomography single photon emission computed tomography neuroimaging dopamine receptor neurodegeneration neuroprotection Parkinson’s Disease Alzheimer’s Disease Huntington’s Chorea radiotracer cholinergic receptor 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rikki N. Waterhouse
    • 1
  • Jun Zhao
    • 1
  1. 1.Neurobiology and Imaging Program, Department of Biological PsychiatryNew York State Psychiatric InstituteNew York

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