Excessive activation of inflammatory signaling pathways seems to be a hallmark of epileptogenesis. Positron emission tomography (PET) allows in vivo detection of brain inflammation with spatial information and opportunities for longitudinal follow-up scanning protocols. Here, we assessed whether molecular imaging of the 18 kDa translocator protein (TSPO) can serve as a biomarker for the development of epilepsy. Therefore, brain uptake of [18F]GE-180, a highly selective radioligand of TSPO, was investigated in a longitudinal PET study in a chronic rat model of temporal lobe epilepsy. Analyses revealed that the influence of the epileptogenic insult on [18F]GE-180 brain uptake was most pronounced in the earlier phase of epileptogenesis. Differences were evident in various brain regions during earlier phases of epileptogenesis with [18F]GE-180 standardized uptake value enhanced by 2.1 to 2.7fold. In contrast, brain regions exhibiting differences seemed to be more restricted with less pronounced increases of tracer uptake by 1.8–2.5fold four weeks following status epilepticus and by 1.5–1.8fold in the chronic phase. Based on correlation analysis, we were able to identify regions with a predictive value showing a correlation with seizure development. These regions include the amygdala as well as a cluster of brain areas. This cluster comprises parts of different brain regions, e.g. the hippocampus, parietal cortex, thalamus, and somatosensory cortex. In conclusion, the data provide evidence that [18F]GE-180 PET brain imaging can serve as a biomarker of epileptogenesis. The identification of brain regions with predictive value might facilitate the development of preventive concepts as well as the early assessment of the interventional success. Future studies are necessary to further confirm the predictivity of the approach.
Russmann, V., Brendel, M., Mille, E., Helm-Vicidomini, A., Beck, R., Günther, L., … Potschka, H. (2017). Identification of brain regions predicting epileptogenesis by serial [18F]GE-180 positron emission tomography imaging of neuroinflammation in a rat model of temporal lobe epilepsy. NeuroImage: Clinical, 15, 35–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2017.04.003