Metzger JM, Moore CF, Boettcher CA, et al. In vivo imaging of inflammation and oxidative stress in a nonhuman primate model of cardiac sympathetic neurodegeneration. npj Parkinson’s Disease. 2018;4(1):22. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41531-018-0057-1.
Loss of cardiac postganglionic sympathetic innervation is a characteristic pathology of Parkinson’s disease (PD). It progresses over time independently of motor symptoms and is not responsive to typical anti-parkinsonian therapies. Cardiac sympathetic neurodegeneration can be mimicked in animals using systemic dosing of the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). As in PD, 6-OHDA-induced neuronal loss is associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress. To assess the feasibility of detecting changes over time in cardiac catecholaminergic innervation, inflammation, and oxidative stress, myocardial positron emission tomography with the radioligands [11C]meta-hydroxyephedrine (MHED), [11C]PBR28 (PBR28), and [61Cu]diacetyl-bis(N(4))-methylthiosemicarbazone (ATSM) was performed in 6-OHDA-intoxicated adult, male rhesus macaques (n = 10; 50 mg/kg i.v.). The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) agonist pioglitazone, which is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress properties, was administered to five animals (5 mg/kg, PO); the other five were placebo-treated. One week after 6-OHDA, cardiac MHED uptake was significantly reduced in both groups (placebo, 86% decrease; pioglitazone, 82%); PBR28 and ATSM uptake increased in both groups but were attenuated in pioglitazone-treated animals (PBR28 Treatment × Level ANOVA p < 0.002; ATSM Mann–Whitney p = 0.032). At 12 weeks, partial recovery of MHED uptake was significantly greater in the pioglitazone-treated group, dependent on left ventricle circumferential region and axial level (Treatment × Region × Level ANOVA p = 0.034); 12-week MHED uptake significantly correlated with tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity across cardiac anatomy (p < 0.000002). PBR28 and ATSM uptake returned to baseline levels by 12 weeks. These radioligands thus hold potential as in vivo biomarkers of mechanisms of cardiac neurodegeneration and neuroprotection.