Value of 18Fluorodeoxyglucose–Positron-Emission Tomography in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Prospective Study | Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis | JAMA Neurology | JAMA Network
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Original Investigation
May 2014

Value of 18Fluorodeoxyglucose–Positron-Emission Tomography in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Prospective Study

Author Affiliations
  • 1KU Leuven, Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, University Hospital Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  • 2KU Leuven, Department of Neurology, University Hospital Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  • 3KU Leuven, Department of Neurosciences, Experimental Neurology, and Leuven Research Institute for Neuroscience and Disease (LIND), Leuven, Belgium
  • 4VIB, Vesalius Research Center, Laboratory of Neurobiology, Leuven, Belgium
JAMA Neurol. 2014;71(5):553-561. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.62

Importance  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disorder primarily affecting the motor system, with extramotor involvement to a variable extent. Biomarkers for early differential diagnosis and prognosis are needed. An autosomal dominant hexanucleotide (GGGGCC) expansion in the noncoding region of the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9orf72) gene is the most frequent genetic cause of ALS, but its metabolic pattern has not been studied systematically.

Objectives  To evaluate the use of 18fluorodeoxyglucose–positron-emission tomography as a marker of ALS pathology and investigate whether a specific metabolic signature is present in patients with C9orf72 mutations.

Design, Setting, and Participants  In total, 81 patients with a suspected diagnosis of ALS at University Hospital Leuven were prospectively investigated. All underwent detailed neurological examination and electrodiagnostic and genetic testing for the major known genetic causes of ALS (C9orf72, SOD1, TARDBP, and FUS). A diagnosis of ALS was made in 70 of 81 patients. Of these, 11 were C9orf72 positive and 59 were C9orf72 negative. In 7 patients, the diagnosis of primary lateral sclerosis was made; 4 patients had progressive muscular atrophy. A screened healthy control population was used for comparison.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Positron-emission tomographic data were spatially normalized and analyzed using a predefined volume of interest and a voxel-based analysis (SPM8). Discriminant analysis was done both volume of interest based and voxel based using a support vector machine approach.

Results  Compared with control participants, 18fluorodeoxyglucose–positron-emission tomography showed perirolandic and variable prefrontal hypometabolism in most patients. Patients with primary lateral sclerosis showed a similar pattern. Patients with C9orf72-positive ALS had discrete relative hypometabolism in the thalamus and posterior cingulate compared with those with C9orf72-negative ALS. A posteriori-corrected discriminant analysis was able to correctly classify 95% of ALS cases and 71% of primary lateral sclerosis cases. Prefrontal hypometabolism was associated with reduced clinical functioning (ALS Functional Rating Scale). Extensive hypometabolism in the prefrontal or anterior temporal areas was present in 10% of patients and associated with significantly shorter survival as an independent factor (n = 63, P < .001). Patients who were C9orf72 positive did not differ in survival compared with those who were C9orf72 negative.

Conclusions and Relevance  18Fluorodeoxyglucose–positron-emission tomography is a useful early diagnostic and prognostic marker for ALS. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that is positive for C9orf72 is characterized by only mild cerebral metabolic differences that show no prognostic difference.