Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Prof. Dr. Henning Boecker

Areas of investigation/research focus

PET is a noninvasive imaging technique that allows to measure specific physiological and pathophysiological processes within the human brain in vivo. Its high sensitivity and specificity is considered as a major advantage over other medical imaging modalities, allowing e.g. the assessment of cerebral metabolism / perfusion, of specific neurotransmitter/receptor systems, and of abnormal protein depositions in the brain.

A common clinical use of PET is to measure the cerebral rate of glucose consumption using the radiolabeled glucose analogue 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG PET). FDG uptake in the brain reflects neuronal function and neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by prototypical patterns of metabolic abnormalities indicating regional neuronal dysfunction. FDG PET thus plays an important role in the early diagnosis / differential diagnosis of various neurodegenerative disease conditions. Other applications of PET include measurements of cerebral blood flow and oxygen consumption and tracking neurotransmitter / receptor systems, which typically show abnormalities in neurodegenerative diseases like e.g. Parkinson's disease. More recently, it has become possible to measure the cerebral distribution of extracellular amyloid (amyloid PET) and intracellular tau (tau PET) proteins that characterize some neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, PET can be understood as a form of ‘neuropathological imaging’ in vivo.

The PET research group has hitherto implemented the necessary logistics for uni- and multisite Neuro-PET applications within the DZNE. Administrative actions have been undertaken for the multisite DEMDAS study (local Ethics approval for Bonn UKB/DZNE site on August 13th 2013, radiation protection approval for Bonn UKB/DZNE site on March 17th 2014), the multisite DELCODE study (local Ethics approval for Bonn UKB/DZNE site on July 23rd 2015, radiation protection approval for Bonn UKB/DZNE site on April 27th 2015), and the multisite ENERGI study (local Ethics approval for Bonn UKB/DZNE site on March 23rd 2015, radiation protection approval for Bonn UKB/DZNE site on December 21rd 2017).

All three multicenter studies employ FDG PET and the amyloid tracer 18F-Florbetaben (NeuraCeq®, Piramal Life Sciences). Standardization applies to tracer application, scanning procedures, data handling and analysis. PET data storage is implemented in a server-based storage environment (X-NAT platform) at the DZNE, and analysis covers data preprocessing pipelines including motion correction using PMOD 3.8 and subsequent pixel wise uni- and multivariate statistical group analysis in SPM 8/12 (Matlab).

Actions were also undertaken together with the Department of Nuclear Medicine / IREMB in Cologne (Prof. Dr. Alexander Drzezga / Prof. Dr. Bernd Neumaier), to implement innovative tracers within the DZNE (e.g. targeting TAU) as well as joint data analysis procedures.

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