[The heterogeneity of myocardial sympathetic innervation in normal subjects: an assessment by iodine-123 metaiodobenzylguanidine scintigraphy]

M D'Alto, S Maurea, A Basso, P Varrella, W Polverino, U Bianchi, A Bonelli, M Salvatore, M Chiariello
Cardiologia: Bollettino Della Società Italiana di Cardiologia 1998, 43 (11): 1231-6
123I-radiolabeled metaiodobenzylguanidine (123I-MIBG) cardiac imaging has been used to evaluate the distribution of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) in the heart. Different heart diseases have shown impaired cardiac SNS distribution as reflected by MIBG activity. The aim of this study was to assess the cardiac distribution of SNS in normal subjects, using MIBG imaging. Ten normal subjects (1 male and 9 females, mean age 46 +/- 9 years) with no cardiac abnormalities underwent myocardial 123I-MIBG scintigraphy, Tc-99m methoxyisobutylisonitrile (MIBI) cardiac perfusion imaging and equilibrium radionuclide angiography (RNA). Regional myocardial MIBG and MIBI activities were quantitatively evaluated using a region of interest analysis. For this purpose, the left ventricle was divided into 6 myocardial regions as anterior, apical, inferior, septum, lateral and posterolateral. In particular, myocardial MIBG and MIBI activities were measured as myocardium to mediastinum ratio. Regional left ventricular function was assessed by RNA. Myocardial MIBG uptake was homogeneous in anterior (2.2 +/- 0.5), inferior (2.5 +/- 0.7), septal (2.4 +/- 0.4), lateral (2.3 +/- 0.4), and posterolateral (2.3 +/- 0.4) regions. Conversely, MIBG uptake was significantly lower in the apical region (1.9 +/- 0.3) compared to all other left ventricular segments (p < 0.05). Regional myocardial perfusion, as measured by MIBI uptake, was homogeneous in all regions. No regional left ventricular wall motion abnormalities were observed by RNA. In conclusion, our data suggest that a decreased MIBG uptake may be observed in the left ventricular apical region of normal subjects reflecting reduced sympathetic innervation of the apex. This finding is not related to myocardial perfusion or wall motion abnormalities. The knowledge of cardiac sympathetic innervation in normal subjects may be helpful to assess SNS abnormalities in heart disease.

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