To test the hypothesis that neuroinflammation is a key process in adult Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) disease, we undertook PET scanning utilizing a ligand binding activated microglia on 9 patients and 9 age- and sex-matched controls.
We scanned all participants with the PET radioligand 11C-(R)-PK-11195 and undertook structural MRI to measure gray matter volume and white matter fractional anisotropy (FA).
We found increased binding of 11C-(R)-PK-11195 in total white matter compared to controls (
p< 0.01), but not in gray matter regions, and this did not correlate with illness severity or duration. Gray matter was reduced in the thalamus ( p< 0.0001) in patients, who also showed widespread reductions in FA across the brain compared to controls ( p< 0.001). A significant correlation between 11C-(R)-PK11195 binding and FA was shown ( p= 0.002), driven by the NPC patient group. Conclusions
Our findings suggest that neuroinflammation—particularly in white matter—may underpin some structural and degenerative changes in patients with NPC.