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Support units for research > Brain Imaging Unit > Unit Description

Unit Description Personnel Conditions Equipment

Brain Imaging Unit

Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is a nuclear medicine tomographic imaging technique using gamma rays, which are captured by a gamma camera. Imaging in general, and Brain Imaging in particular had become a widely used technique in Molecular Medicine, and, with the advent of preclinical equipments, it allows to perform studies in experimental animals in vivo.

The technique requires the delivery of a gamma-emitting radioisotope (a radionuclide) into the subject under study, normally through injection into the bloodstream. Occasionally, the radioisotope is a simple soluble dissolved ion. However, in general, a radioisotope is attached to a specific molecule to create a radioligand, whose properties allows binding to certain types of tissues.

To acquire SPECT images, the gamma camera is rotated around the subject to obtain 3D images. Projections are acquired at defined points during the rotation, typically every 3–6 degrees. In most cases, a full 360-degree rotation is used to obtain an optimal reconstruction. The time taken to obtain each projection is also variable, and related with the characteristics of the radioligand.

The Cajal institute Brain Imaging Unit has acquired an Albira SPECT (Oncovision, Spain) that allows the study of different functions. It is equipped with a computerized tomographer (CT), that allows anatomical imaging.

We are focused on the development of methods to assess different brain functions. For instance, cerebral blood flow to be assessed with 99mTc-HMPAO (hexamethylpropylene amine oxime), a parameter that may be changed in neurodegenerative disorders, tumours etc...Dopamine transporters could be labeled with DatScan (123I-BICIT), an application useful in Parkinson’s disease models where those transporters are reduced. Neuroinflammation is present in the majority of the disorders of the brain, and anti-inflammatory molecules are actively studied for those conditions, therefore we intend to image neuroinflammation by means of 123I-PK11195.



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