The changes of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in Parkinson's disease (PD) were investigated. Because of individual differences in brain volume and the extent of brain atrophy, previous functional imaging studies involved potential methodological difficulties. In this study, using the statistical parametric mapping technique, 99mTechnetium-labeled hexamethylpropyleneamineoxime brain single-photon emission computed tomography images from 18 patients with PD were transformed into standard brain-based stereotaxic coordinate spaces and then compared with such images for 11 control subjects matched for age and extent of brain atrophy. A rCBF decrement in the supplementary motor area (SMA) and such decrement in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) were observed in the summarized PD images as compared with controls (p<0.005). In a subgroup in the Hoehn-Yahr III/IV stage (11 cases), the rCBF decrement was demonstrated not only in the SMA, but also in the DLPFC and insular cortex (p<0.001). There was a correlation between the degree of the rCBF decrement in the DLPFC or the insular cortex and the score of the unified Parkinson's disease rating scale (p<0.05), while the rCBF decrement in the SMA showed no relationship with the severity of disease. The function of the SMA is closely associated with the nigro-striatal pathway and its impairment can explain the basic akinetic symptoms in PD, which are responsive to L-DOPA treatment. On the other hand, the DLPFC and insular cortex may play key roles in specific symptoms of impairment at advanced stages, such as impaired working memory, postural instability and autonomic dysfunction. We hypothesize that the impairment of the DLPFC and insular function is correlated with the progression of the disease and is related to DOPA-refractory symptoms, which are major problems in the care of patients with advanced PD.
- Parkinson's disease
- Single-photon emission computed tomography
- Statistical parametric mapping