In idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (PD), a generalized Lewy body type-degeneration in the brain as well as extracranial organs was identified. It is unclear, whether cerebral and extracranial Lewy body type-degeneration in PD are coupled or not. To address this question, cerebral [123I]FP-CIT SPECT – to quantify cerebral nigrostriatal dopaminergic degeneration – and myocardial [123I]MIBG scintigraphy – to quantify extracranial myocardial sympathetic degeneration – were performed in 95 PD patients and 20 healthy controls. At each Hoehn and Yahr stage separately, myocardial MIBG uptake correlated significantly with striatal FP-CIT uptake. No such correlation was found in the controls. Cerebral and extracranial Lewy body type-degeneration in PD do not develop independently from each other but develop in a strongly coupled manner. Obviously cerebral and extracranial changes are driven by at least similar pathomechanisms. Our findings in controls contradict a physiological correlation between nigrostriatal dopaminergic and myocardial sympathetic function.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease, FP-CIT SPECT, MIBG scintigraphy.
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