PET Imaging of the Brain’s Red Nucleus Indicates its Possible Involvement in Higher Order Functions

Research Press Release | August 20, 2015

Press Release

Key Points ・Until now, the smallness of the red nucleus1 of the deep brain has made it difficult to image with PET2.

・We are now able to make high spatial resolution images of the metabolic activity of the red nucleus using a semiconductor detector PET scanner.

・This research suggests that the red nucleus is metabolically correlated not only to the motor cortex but also to many association areas.

Overview The red nucleus, a small structure lying deeply within the brain, is an area that is traditionally difficult to image with PET. At this time, by using a semiconductor detector PET scanner that has high spatial resolution, and by using the diagnostic drug F-18 FDG3, we have succeeded in imaging the metabolic activity of the red nucleus. These results indicate the possibility that the red nucleus has metabolic correlations with many association areas and involvement in high-order functions.

This research was supported by a grant-in-aid from the Creation of Innovation Centers for Advanced Interdisciplinary Research Areas Program of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology.

1 Red Nucleus: A symmetrical pair of structures in the midbrain which are at most 10mm in diameter. It derives its name from its red appearance which is due to high iron content.

2 PET (Positron Emission Tomography): A scanning method that uses a special purpose PET camera to detect internally administered radioactive drugs such as F-18 FDG to quantitatively image drug distribution within the living body. PET is mainly used to diagnose cancer, but is increasingly used for brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

3 F-18 FDG: Fluorodeoxyglucose tagged with fluorine-18. The hydroxide group at glucose position 2 is substituted with fluorine. With F-18 FDG and PET technology it is possible to image glucose metabolism within the body.


Coordinating Office, Future Drug Discovery and Medical Care Innovation Project, Hokkaido University

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高性能半導体 PET を用いて赤核の代謝活動の画像化に成功赤核の高次機能への関与を示唆 (2015.7.27)
Publications Metabolic activity of red nucleus and its correlation with cerebral cortex and cerebellum – a study using a high-resolution semiconductor PET system, Journal of Nuclear Medicine (2015.6.4)


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