INTRODUCTION: The peripheral autonomic nervous system may be involved years before onset of motor symptoms in some patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Specific imaging techniques to quantify the cholinergic nervous system in peripheral organs are an unmet need. We tested the hypothesis that patients with PD display decreased [ 18F]FEOBV uptake in peripheral organs - a sign of parasympathetic denervation.
METHODS: We included 15 PD patients and 15 age- and sex matched healthy controls for a 70 min whole-body dynamic positron emission tomography (PET) acquisition. Compartmental modelling was used for tracer kinetic analyses of adrenal gland, pancreas, myocardium, spleen, renal cortex, muscle and colon. Standard uptake values (SUV) at 60-70 min post injection were also extracted for these organs. Additionally, SUVs were also determined in the total colon, prostate, parotid and submandibular glands.
RESULTS: We found no statistically significant difference of [ 18F]FEOBV binding parameters in any organs between patients with PD and healthy controls, although trends were observed. The pancreas SUV showed a 14% reduction in patients (P = 0.021, not statistically significant after multiple comparison correction). We observed a trend towards lower SUVs in the pancreas, colon, adrenal gland, and myocardium of PD patients with versus without probable REM sleep behavior disorder.
CONCLUSION: [ 18F]FEOBV PET may not be a sensitive marker for parasympathetic degeneration in patients with PD.