PET/SPECT molecular imaging in clinical neuroscience: recent advances in the investigation of CNS diseases

Feng-Mei Lu, Zhen Yuan


Abstract: Molecular imaging is an attractive technology widely used in clinical practice that greatly enhances our understanding of the pathophysiology and treatment in central nervous system (CNS) diseases. It is a novel multidisciplinary technique that can be defined as real-time visualization, in vivo characterization and qualification of biological processes at the molecular and cellular level. It involves the imaging modalities and the corresponding imaging agents. Nowadays, molecular imaging in neuroscience has provided tremendous insights into disturbed human brain function. Among all of the molecular imaging modalities, positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) have occupied a particular position that visualize and measure the physiological processes using high-affinity and high-specificity molecular radioactive tracers as imaging probes in intact living brain. In this review, we will put emphasis on the PET/SPECT applications in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) as major CNS disorders. We will first give an overview of the main classical molecular neuroimaging modalities. Then, the major clinical applications of PET and SPECT along with molecular probes in the fields of psychiatry and neurology will be discussed.