Background: Neuroinflammation is proposed to accompany, or even contribute to, neuropathology in Friedreich ataxia (FRDA), with implications for disease treatment and tracking. Objectives: To examine brain glial activation and systemic immune dysfunction in people with FRDA and quantify their relationship with symptom severity, duration, and onset age. Methods: Fifteen individuals with FRDA and 13 healthy controls underwent brain positron emission tomography using the translocator protein (TSPO) radioligand [18F]-FEMPA, a marker of glial activation, together with the quantification of blood plasma inflammatory cytokines. Results: [18F]-FEMPA binding was significantly increased in the dentate nuclei (d = 0.67), superior cerebellar peduncles (d = 0.74), and midbrain (d = 0.87), alongside increased plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6) (d = 0.73), in individuals with FRDA compared to controls. Increased [18F]-FEMPA binding in the dentate nuclei, brainstem, and cerebellar anterior lobe correlated with earlier age of symptom onset (controlling for the genetic triplet repeat expansion length; all rpart < −0.6), and in the pons and anterior lobe with shorter disease duration (r = −0.66; −0.73). Conclusions: Neuroinflammation is evident in brain regions implicated in FRDA neuropathology. Increased neuroimmune activity may be related to earlier disease onset and attenuate over the course of the illness.
|Number of pages||7|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 2022|