Localizing value of α-methyl-L-tryptophan PET in intractable epilepsy of neocortical origin

M. Fedi, David Reutens, H. Okazawa, F. Andermann, W. Boling, F. Dubeau, C. White, A. Nakai, D. W. Gross, E. Andermann, M. Diksic

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80 Scopus citations


Background: [11C] α-methyl-L-tryptophan (α-MTrp) has been developed as a tracer for the study of the synthesis of serotonin in the brain with PET. However, it has been shown that in pathologic conditions the tracer may reflect the activation of kynurenine metabolism. Increased levels of serotonin and quinolinic acid have been described in resected epileptogenic cortex, raising the possibility that α-MTrp can localize seizure foci in patients with intractable partial epilepsy. The authors assessed the uptake of α-MTrp in 18 patients (11 men, mean ± SD age 27.1 ± 10.1 years, range 13 to 54) with intractable partial epilepsy to correlate the PET findings with the epileptogenic area defined by electroclinical and neuroimaging data. Method: Seven patients with cortical dysplasia (CD) and 11 with partial epilepsy in which conventional MRI and fluorine-18-deoxyglucose (18FDG)-PET studies failed to detect any abnormality were studied. All underwent scalp EEG monitoring during the PET scan to exclude ictal events and estimate the interictal epileptic activity. Results: In seven patients (39%; CD four and cryptogenic partial epilepsy three), PET showed focal increased uptake of α-MTrp corresponding to the epileptogenic area. α-MTrp uptake in the epileptic focus correlated with the frequency of interictal spikes (r = 0.7, p < 0.05). Conclusions: α-MTrp-PET may be of value in the localization of the epileptogenic area not only in patients with visible dysplastic lesions, but also in those with cryptogenic partial epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1629-1636
Number of pages8
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 13 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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