The effect of dopamine agonist therapy on dopamine transporter imaging in Parkinson's disease

J. Eric Ahlskog, Ryan J. Uitti, Michael K. O'Connor, Demetrius M. Maraganore, Joseph Y. Matsumoto, Kathy F. Stark, Margaret F. Turk, Omer L. Burnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging with the dopamine transporter ligand, [123I] β-CIT (2β-carboxymethoxy-3β-[4-iodophenyl] tropane), has been proposed as a means of measuring Parkinson's disease (PD) progression. To be useful in this role, however, [123I] β-CIT imaging should not be influenced by the medications used to treat PD, including the dopamine agonist drugs such as pergolide. We assessed the effect of adjunctive pergolide administration on [123I] β-CIT uptake in 12 patients with PD, who were being treated with levodopa, initiating pergolide therapy for motor fluctuations. Patients underwent [123I] β-CIT imaging at baseline, subsequently while on pergolide therapy (6 weeks), and again 4 weeks after pergolide wash-out. Uptake in the striatum was averaged for the two sides and expressed as (striatum - occipital)/occipital, with similar calculations for putamen and caudate. Consistent with PD, the patients' mean striatal and putamen uptake ratios at baseline were significantly less (p < 0.001) than the mean values from 26 normal control subjects of similar age. During pergolide treatment, the striatal and putamen [123I] β-CIT uptake ratios were each statistically similar to baseline, although there was a slight trend toward an increased striatal value (8% higher on pergolide; p = 0.105). Caudate [123I] β-CIT uptake was 11% higher on pergolide therapy (nominal p = 0.042, but not significant when adjusted for multiple comparisons: p = 0.126). After pergolide washout, the striatal, putamen, and caudate uptake ratios did not differ from baseline. Therefore, we found that pergolide therapy did not significantly affect [123I] β-CIT SPECT imaging but we cannot exclude a small influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)940-946
Number of pages7
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999


  • Dopamine agonist
  • Dopamine transporter
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Pergolide
  • [I] β-CIT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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