Huntington's disease, SPECT scans

Huntington's disease, SPECT scans

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This image is part of the feature Human Brain Under Attack

Credit: DR M O HABERT, PITIE-SALPETRIERE, ISM/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Huntington's disease. Coloured single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans of axial sections through the brain of a patient with Huntington's disease. Huntington's is a genetic neurodegenerative disease. It is caused by a CAG repeat mutation on chromosome 4 that leads to the accumulation of a protein, huntingin, in brain cells. This leads to neuronal loss, seen here as enlarged lateral ventricles (green areas, centre). The neuronal loss causes involuntary movements and progressive dementia. There is no cure and drugs only alleviate symptoms in the short term. SPECT scans use gamma cameras to detect radioactive tracers, injected into the blood, that accumulate in areas of high metabolic activity.

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