We used positron emission tomography with [11C]flumazenil to study gamma‐aminobutyric acid type A/benzodiazepine receptor binding quantitatively in the cerebral hemispheres, basal ganglia, thalamus, cerebellum, and brainstem of 72 subjects, including 14 with multiple system atrophy of the ataxic (olivopontocerebellar atrophy) type, 5 with multiple system atrophy of the extrapyramidal/autonomic (Shy‐Drager syndrome) type, 18 with sporadic olivoponto‐cerebellar atrophy, 15 with dominantly inherited olivopontocerebellar atrophy, and 20 normal control subjects with similar age and sex distributions. In comparison with data obtained from the normal control subjects, we found significantly Decemberreased ligand influx in the cerebellum and brainstem of multiple system atrophy patients of the olivopontocerebellar atrophy type and in patients with sporadic olivopontocerebellar atrophy, but not in patients with multiple system atrophy of the Shy‐Drager syndrome type. Despite these differences in ligand influx, benzodiazepine binding was largely preserved in the cerebral hemispheres, basal ganglia, thalamus, cerebellum, and brainstem in patients with multiple system atrophy of both types as well as those with sporadic or dominantly inhierited olivoponto‐cerebellar atrophy as compared with normal control subjects. The finding of relative preservation of benzodiazepine receptors indicates that these sites are available for pharmacological therapy in these disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology