Positron emission tomography in basic epilepsy research : a view of the epileptic brain
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Epilepsia. - Boston, Mass.
, p. 56-64
The neurobiological processes that result in epilepsy, known as epileptogenesis, are incompletely understood. Moreover, there is currently no therapy that effectively halts or impedes the development or progression of the condition. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) provides valuable information about the function of the brain in vivo, and is playing a central role in both clinical practice and research. This technique reliably reveals functional abnormalities in many epilepsy syndromes, particularly temporal lobe epilepsy. Unfortunately, epileptogenesis is extremely difficult to study in human patients who usually present with established epilepsy, rather than at the early stages of the process. Animal models offer the advantage of permitting the assessment of the pre-, developing, and chronic epileptic states. However, traditional techniques (e.g., histology) are only able to examine the brain at one time point during epileptogenesis in any one individual. Recent advances in dedicated small animal PET (saPET) allow researchers for the first time to study in vivo biomolecular changes in the brain during epileptogenesis by means of serial acquisitions in the same animal. Repeated application of in vivo imaging modalities in the same animal also decreases the effect of biological inter-individual variability and the number of animals to be used. The availability of novel PET tracers permits the investigation of a broad range of biochemical and physiological processes in the brain. Besides research on epileptogenesis, saPET can also be applied to investigate in vivo the biological effect of novel treatment strategies. saPET is widely used in many fields of pathophysiological investigation and is likely to significantly enhance epilepsy research.