Dopamine transporter imaging in essential tremor with and without parkinsonian features

Olga Waln, Ying Wu, Reid Perlman, Juliet Wendt, Anh K. Van, Joseph Jankovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Mild parkinsonian features can be observed in patients with essential tremor (ET). Although dopamine transporter (DAT) imaging is usually normal in ET, some studies found mild dopaminergic deficit in ET patients compared to healthy controls (HC). We analyzed clinical and DAT imaging data in ET patients with and without parkinsonian features. Thirty-nine ET patients with and without parkinsonian features and 13 HC underwent detailed examination by a movement disorders neurologist and 123-I ioflupane SPECT. Two independent radiologists “blinded” to the clinical diagnosis analyzed images visually and by semi-quantitative calculation of striatal binding ratios in different volumes of interests. ET patients were divided into pure ET group (no parkinsonian features, n = 22), ET-P [one parkinsonian feature not sufficient for the clinical diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease (PD), n = 9], and ET + PD (two or more parkinsonian features meeting diagnostic criteria for PD, n = 8). As expected, ET + PD patients had the lowest striatal binding ratios. We also found a trend toward slightly lower striatal binding ratios in ET patients ET compared to HC, especially in caudate nucleus. There was no significant correlation between striatal binding ratios, ET severity or duration. Patients with ET and parkinsonian features represent a heterogeneous group that includes ET + PD and ET-P. The latter group shares some clinical features with PD but has no dopaminergic deficit on DAT imaging as determined by visual image interpretation. On the other hand, minimal dopaminergic deficit (as compared to controls) is detected in some ET patients with semi-quantitative image analysis, although the pattern may be different from that of PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1515-1521
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Dopamine transporter imaging
  • Essential tremor
  • Parkinson’s disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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