Dopaminergic function in spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 patients with and without parkinsonism.

Although pure cerebellar ataxia is usually emphasized as the characteristic clinical feature of spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6), parkinsonism has been repeatedly described in patients with genetically confirmed SCA6.We conducted a positron emission tomography study using a combination of [18F]fluoro-L-dopa for dopamine synthesis and [11C]raclopride for dopamine D2 receptor function on six genetically confirmed SCA6 patients, both with and without parkinsonism. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first dopamine receptor imaging study of patients with SCA6.Most patients had somewhat decreased dopaminergic function, and this decrease was significant in the caudate nucleus. In addition, one SCA6 patient with parkinsonism had whole striatal dysfunction of both dopamine synthesis and dopamine D2 receptor function.The pathology of SCA6 may not be restricted to the cerebellum, but may also be distributed across various regions, including in both presynaptic and postsynaptic dopaminergic neurons to some degree. Patients with SCA6 may show apparent parkinsonism after the progression of neurodegeneration.

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