Metabolic and type 1 cannabinoid receptor imaging of a transgenic rat model in the early phase of Huntington disease.Exp Neurol 2011; 229(2):440-9EN
Several lines of evidence imply early alterations in metabolic and endocannabinoid neurotransmission in Huntington disease (HD). Using [(18)F]MK-9470 and small animal PET, we investigated for the first time cerebral changes in type 1 cannabinoid (CB1) receptor binding in vivo in pre-symptomatic and early symptomatic rats of HD (tgHD), in relation to glucose metabolism, morphology and behavioral testing for motor and cognitive function. Twenty-three Sprague-Dawley rats (14 tgHD and 9 wild-types) were investigated between the age of 2 and 11 months. Relative glucose metabolism and parametric CB1 receptor images were anatomically standardized to Paxinos space and analyzed voxel-wise. Volumetric microMRI imaging was performed to assess HD neuropathology. Within the first 10 months, bilateral volumes of caudate-putamen and lateral ventricles did not significantly differ between genotypes. Longitudinal- and genotype evolution showed that relative [(18)F]MK-9470 binding progressively decreased in the caudate-putamen and lateral globus pallidus of tgHD rats (-8.3%, p≤1.1×10(-5) at 5 months vs. -10.9%, p<1.5×10(-5) at 10 months). In addition, relative glucose metabolism increased in the bilateral sensorimotor cortex of 2-month-old tgHD rats (+8.1%, p≤1.5×10(-5)), where it was positively correlated to motor function at that time point. TgHD rats developed cognitive deficits at 6 and 11 months of age. Our findings point to early regional dysfunctions in endocannabinoid signalling, involving the lateral globus pallidus and caudate-putamen. In vivo CB1 receptor measurements using [(18)F]MK-9470 may thus be a useful early biomarker for HD. Our results also provide evidence of subtle motor and cognitive deficits at earlier stages than previously described.