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Perspective: Solving the Heterogeneity Conundrum of TSPO PET Imaging in Psychosis.

Authors
  • De Picker, Livia1, 2
  • Morrens, Manuel1, 2
  • 1 Collaborative Antwerp Psychiatric Research Institute, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 2 SINAPS, University Psychiatric Hospital Campus Duffel, Duffel, Belgium. , (Belgium)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Frontiers in Psychiatry
Publisher
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
Volume
11
Pages
362–362
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00362
PMID: 32425835
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Positron emission tomography using ligands targeting translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO PET) is an innovative method to visualize and quantify glial inflammatory responses in the central nervous system in vivo. Compared to some other neuropsychiatric disorders, findings of TSPO PET in schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders have been considerably more heterogeneous. Two conflicting meta-analyses have been published on the topic within the last year: one asserting evidence for decreased TSPO uptake, while the other observed increased TSPO uptake in a selection of studies. In this paper, we review and discuss five hypotheses which may explain the observed variability of TSPO PET findings in psychotic illness, namely that (1) an inflammatory phenotype is only present in a subgroup of psychosis patients; (2) heterogeneity is caused by interference of antipsychotic medication; (3) interference of other clinical confounders in the study populations (such as age, sex, BMI, smoking, and substance use); or (4) methodological variability between studies (such as choice of tracer and kinetic model, genotyping, study power, and diurnal effects); and (5) the glial responses underlying changes in TSPO expression are themselves heterogeneous and dynamic. Finally, we propose four key recommendations for future research proposals to mitigate these different causes of heterogeneity. Copyright © 2020 De Picker and Morrens.

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