Aberrant dopamine transporter and functional connectivity patterns in LRRK2 and GBA mutation carriers

Amgad Droby, Moran Artzi, Hedva Lerman, R. Matthew Hutchison, Dafna Ben Bashat, Nurit Omer, Tanya Gurevich, Avi Orr-Urtreger, Batsheva Cohen, Jesse M. Cedarbaum, Einat Even Sapir, Nir Giladi, Anat Mirelman, Avner Thaler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Non-manifesting carriers (NMCs) of Parkinson’s disease (PD)-related mutations such as LRRK2 and GBA are at an increased risk for developing PD. Dopamine transporter (DaT)-spectral positron emission computed tomography is widely used for capturing functional nigrostriatal dopaminergic activity. However, it does not reflect other ongoing neuronal processes; especially in the prodromal stages of the disease. Resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI) has been proposed as a mode for assessing functional alterations associated with PD, but its relation to dopaminergic deficiency remains unclear. We aimed to study the association between presynaptic striatal dopamine uptake and functional connectivity (FC) patterns among healthy first-degree relatives of PD patients with mutations in LRRK2 and GBA genes. N = 85 healthy first-degree subjects were enrolled and genotyped. All participants underwent DaT and rs-fMRI scans, as well as a comprehensive clinical assessment battery. Between-group differences in FC within striatal regions were investigated and compared with striatal binding ratios (SBR). N = 26 GBA-NMCs, N = 25 LRRK2-NMCs, and N = 34 age-matched nonmanifesting noncarriers (NM-NCs) were included in each study group based on genetic status. While genetically-defined groups were similar across clinical measures, LRRK2-NMCs demonstrated lower SBR in the right putamen compared with NM-NCs, and higher right putamen FC compared to GBA-NMCs. In this group, higher striatal FC was associated with increased risk for PD. The observed differential SBR and FC patterns among LRRK2-NMCs and GBA-NMCs indicate that DaTscan and FC assessments might offer a more sensitive prediction of the risk for PD in the pre-clinical stages of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
Journalnpj Parkinson's Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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