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Quantitative brain PET analysis methods in dementia studies

PhD ceremony:D.E. (Débora Elisa) Peretti, MSc
When:December 07, 2020
Supervisor:prof. dr. R. (Ronald) Boellaard
Co-supervisors:dr. J. (Janine) Doorduin, D. (David) Vallez Garcia
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Medical Sciences / UMCG

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a medical imaging technique capable of obtaining insight into different brain functions (physiological processes) by using different radioactive compounds. Importantly, PET can provide measurable (quantitative) information about these processes. However, this feature is often overlooked and replaced by simpler alternatives such as semiquantitative analyses or visual assessment. To assess different processes taking place in the subject’s brain, several scans are then necessary. Pharmacokinetic modelling comprises of a range of mathematical models that allow for the quantification of PET images. Moreover, it provides high-quality images that represent different physiological processes and could, therefore, have the potential to discard the need for multiple scans.Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by amyloid-β deposits and loss of neuronal function of specific brain regions, such as the parietal and temporal lobes. These processes can be visualized by [11C]PIB and [18F]FDG PET scans, respectively. However, by applying pharmacokinetic modelling to [11C]PIB scans, not only information on amyloid-β deposits becomes available, but also on relative cerebral blood flow (rCBF), which could be used as an alternative to [18F]FDG PET scans due to the link between blood flow and neuronal loss.In this thesis, these rCBF images were used in a variety of analyses, substantiating the theory of its use as an alternative to [18F]FDG in Alzheimer’s disease patients. This leads to a reduction in number of visits to PET centres and exposure to radiation. The findings reinforce the advantages of using pharmacokinetic modelling not only in research settings.