摘要：Introduction: The cardinal pathological feature of Parkinson's disease (PD) is progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons. Since dopamine transporter (DAT) is a protein located presynaptically on dopaminergic nerve terminals, radioligands that bind to these sites are promising radiopharmaceuticals for evaluation of the integrity of the dopamine system. This study using positron emission tomography (PET) tracers, [11C]-2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-fluorophenyl)-tropane ([11C]β-CFT, radioligand for DAT), was aimed at evaluating the degree of nigrostriatal damage and its change over weeks in a rat model of PD.Methods: The brains of these rats were unilaterally lesioned by mechanical transection of the nigrostriatal dopamine pathway at the medial forebrain bundle (MFB). Behavioral studies were carried out by apomorphine (APO) challenge prior to and 1, 2 and 4 weeks after MFB axotomy. Small animal PET scans were performed 2 days after the behavioral test. Immunohistochemistry was conducted 4 days after the last PET scan.Results: Compared with the contralateral intact side, a progressively decreased [11C]β-CFT binding was observed on the lesioned side which correlated inversely with the APO-induced rotations. Postmortem immunohistochemical studies confirmed the loss of both striatal dopamine fibers and nigral neurons on the lesioned side.Conclusion: These findings not only demonstrate that the neuronal degeneration in this model is relatively slow, but also suggest [11C]β-CFT is a sensitive marker to monitor the degree of nigrostriatal damage and its change over weeks. This marker can be used prospectively to study the progression of the disease, thereby making detection of early phases of PD possible.