Identification of early changes in Dopamine-Transporter (DaT) SPECT imaging expected in the prodromal phase of Parkinson's disease (PD), are usually overlooked. Carriers of the G2019S LRRK2 mutation are known to be at high risk for developing PD, compared to noncarriers. In this work we aimed to study early changes in Dopamine uptake in non-manifesting PD carriers (NMC) of the G2019S LRRK2 mutation using quantitative DaT-SPECT analysis and to examine the potential for early prediction of PD. Eighty Ashkenazi-Jewish subjects were included in this study: eighteen patients with PD; thirty-one NMC and thirtyone non-manifesting non-carriers (NMNC). All subjects underwent a through clinical assessment including evaluation of motor, olfactory, affective and non-motor symptoms and DaTSPECT imaging. A population based DaT-SPECT template was created based on the NMNC cohort, and data driven volumes-of-interest (VOIs) were defined. Comparisons between groups were performed based on VOIs and voxel-wise analysis. The striatum area of all three cohorts was segmented into four VOIs, corresponding to the right/left dorsal and ventral striatum. Significant differences in clinical measures were found between patients with PD and non-manifesting subjects with no differences between NMC and NMNC. Significantly lower uptake (p<0.001) was detected in the right and left dorsal striatum in the PD group (2.2±0.3, 2.3±0.4) compared to the NMC (4.2±0.6, 4.3±0.5) and NMNC (4.5±0.6, 4.6 ±0.6), and significantly (p = 0.05) lower uptake in the right dorsal striatum in the NMC group compared to NMNC. Converging results were obtained using voxel-wise analysis. Two NMC participants, who later phenoconverted into PD, demonstrated reduced uptake mainly in the dorsal striatum. No significant correlations were found between the DaT-SPECT uptake in the different VOIs and clinical and behavioral assessments in the non-manifesting groups. This study shows the clinical value of quantitative assessment of DaT-SPECT imaging and the potential for predicting PD by detection of dopamine depletion, already at the pre-symptomatic stage.
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