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The nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway in Wilson's disease studied with positron emission tomography.
  1. B J Snow,
  2. M Bhatt,
  3. W R Martin,
  4. D Li,
  5. D B Calne
  1. Belzberg Laboratory of Clinical Neuroscience, Department of Radiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


    Movement disorders, including Parkinsonism, are prominent features of neurological Wilson's disease (WD). This suggests there may be dysfunction of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway. To explore this possibility, five patients were studied using positron emission tomography (PET) with 18F-6-fluorodopa (6FD), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We calculated striatal 6FD uptake rate constants by a graphical method and compared the results with those of 18 normal subjects. It was found that four patients with symptoms all had abnormally low 6FD uptake, and the one asymptomatic patient had normal uptake. PET evidence for nigrostriatal dopaminergic dysfunction was present even after many years of penicillamine treatment. It is concluded that the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway is involved in neurological WD.

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