Synaptic Loss in Primary Tauopathies Revealed by [11 C]UCB-J Positron Emission Tomography.


BACKGROUND: Synaptic loss is a prominent and early feature of many neurodegenerative diseases. OBJECTIVES: We tested the hypothesis that synaptic density is reduced in the primary tauopathies of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) (Richardson's syndrome) and amyloid-negative corticobasal syndrome (CBS). METHODS: Forty-four participants (15 CBS, 14 PSP, and 15 age-/sex-/education-matched controls) underwent PET with the radioligand [11 C]UCB-J, which binds to synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2A, a marker of synaptic density; participants also had 3 Tesla MRI and clinical and neuropsychological assessment. RESULTS: Nine CBS patients had negative amyloid biomarkers determined by [11 C]PiB PET and hence were deemed likely to have corticobasal degeneration (CBD). Patients with PSP-Richardson's syndrome and amyloid-negative CBS were impaired in executive, memory, and visuospatial tasks. [11 C]UCB-J binding was reduced across frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes, cingulate, hippocampus, insula, amygdala, and subcortical structures in both PSP and CBD patients compared to controls (P