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Imaging Transplantation in Movement Disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Neurobiology
Accepted/In press1 Jan 2018

King's Authors


Cell replacement therapy with graft transplantation has been tested as a disease-modifying treatment in neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the damage of a predominant cell type, such as substantia nigra dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson's disease (PD) or striatal medium spiny projection neurons in Huntington's disease (HD). The results of these trials are mixed with success in preclinical and pilot open-label trials, which were not consistently reproduced in randomized controlled trials. Positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) molecular imaging and functional magnetic resonance imaging allow the graft survival, and its relationship with the host tissues to be studied in vivo. In PD, PET with [18F]DOPA showed that graft survival does not necessarily correlate with the clinical improvement and PD patients with worse outcome had lower binding in the ventral striatum and a high serotonin ([11C]DASB PET) to dopamine ([18F]DOPA PET) ratio in the grafted neurons. In HD, PET with [11C]PK11195 showed the graft survival and the clinical responses may be related to the reactive activation of the host inflammatory/immune system. Findings from these studies have been used to refine study protocols and patient selection in current clinical trials, which includes identifying suitable candidates for transplantation using imaging markers and employing multiple and/or novel PET tracers to better assess graft functions and inflammatory responses to grafts.

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