Functional pattern of brain FDG-PET in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Marco Pagani, Adriano Chiò, Maria Consuelo Valentini, Johanna Öberg, Flavio Nobili, Andrea Calvo, Cristina Moglia, Davide Bertuzzo, Silvia Morbelli, Fabrizio De Carli, Piercarlo Fania, Angelina Cistaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: We investigated a large sample of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at rest in order to assess the value of 18F-2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (18F-FDG) PET as a biomarker to discriminate patients from controls. Methods: A total of 195 patients with ALS and 40 controls underwent brain 18F-FDG-PET, most within 5 months of diagnosis. Spinal and bulbar subgroups of ALS were also investigated. Twenty-five bilateral cortical and subcortical volumes of interest and cerebellum were taken into account, and 18F-FDG uptakes were individually normalized by whole-brain values. Group analyses investigated the ALS-related metabolic changes. Discriminant analysis investigating sensitivity and specificity was performed using the 51 volumes of interest as well as age and sex. Metabolic connectivity was explored by voxel-wise interregional correlation analysis. Results: Hypometabolismwas found in frontal, motor, and occipital cortex and hypermetabolismin midbrain, temporal pole, and hippocampus in patients with ALS compared to controls. A similar metabolic pattern was also found in the 2 subgroups. Discriminant analysis showed a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 83% in separating patients from controls. Connectivity analysis found a highly significant positive correlation between midbrain and white matter in corticospinal tracts in patients with ALS. Conclusions: 18F-FDG distribution changes in ALS showed a clear pattern of hypometabolism in frontal and occipital cortex and hypermetabolism in midbrain. The latter might be interpreted as the neurobiological correlate of diffuse subcortical gliosis. Discriminant analysis resulted in high sensitivity and specificity in differentiating patients with ALS from controls. Once validated by diseased-control studies, the present methodology might represent a potentially useful biomarker for ALS diagnosis. Classificaton of evidence: This study provides Class III evidence that 18F-FDG-PET accurately distinguishes patients with ALS from normal controls (sensitivity 95.4%, specificity 82.5%).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1067-1074
Number of pages8
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Medicine(all)


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