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Neuroimaging of Sleep Disorder Patients Spots Parkinson’s Risk

Last Updated: September 15, 2010.

Neuroimaging of patients with idiopathic rapid-eye-movement sleep behavior disorder can identify those at risk for developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease or dementia, before any symptoms of those conditions appear, according to a study published online Sept. 15 in The Lancet Neurology.

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Neuroimaging of patients with idiopathic rapid-eye-movement sleep behavior disorder (IRBD) can identify those at risk for developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease or dementia, before any symptoms of those conditions appear, according to a study published online Sept. 15 in The Lancet Neurology.

Alex Iranzo, M.D., from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona in Spain, and colleagues performed baseline neuroimaging on 43 patients with IRBD: 123I-2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl)-N-(3-fluoropropyl)-nortropane (123I-FP-CIT) SPECT imaging to detect dopamine transporter (DAT) uptake and transcranial sonography (TCS) to gauge substantia nigra echogenic size. The subjects were followed for 2.5 years for the development of neurodegenerative disorders.

The researchers found that 27 (63 percent) of the patients exhibited low DAT uptake or midbrain hyperechogenicity at study baseline. Among these patients, eight (30 percent) developed either Parkinson's disease (five), dementia with Lewy bodies (two), or multiple system atrophy (one). Patients with normal neuroimaging results at baseline did not develop neurodegenerative conditions.

"Combined use of 123I-FP-CIT SPECT and TCS is a potential strategy for early identification of IRBD individuals who are at increased short-term risk for development of a synucleinopathy. Extended follow-up and post-mortem examination of our IRBD cohort is necessary to confirm this theory," the authors write.

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