Targeting neuronal dysfunction and receptor imaging

Valle Camacho, Ignasi Carrió
Current Opinion in Biotechnology 2007, 18 (1): 60-4
The sympathetic nervous system has great influence on cardiovascular physiology, and the importance of cardiac innervation abnormalities in the physiopathology of various cardiac diseases has been emphasized. Cardiac neurotransmission imaging with single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) allows in vivo assessment of the myocardial nervous system. At present, the most commonly used SPECT tracer to assess cardiac neurotransmission is metaiodobenzylguanidine labelled with iodine-123 ((123)I-MIBG). In patients with heart transplantation, ischemic heart disease, dysautonomias and drug-induced cardiotoxicity, assessment of neuronal function can help characterise the disease and improve the prognostic stratification. Cardiac (123)I-MIBG scintigraphy allows autonomic neuropathy to be detected in the early stages of diabetes mellitus. In patients with heart failure, the assessment of cardiac sympathetic activity has important prognostic implications. Future directions in cardiac sympathetic neurotransmission include the development of new tracers, targeting of second-messenger molecules and early assessment of cardiac neurotransmission in genetically predisposed subjects for prevention of heart failure.

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