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2024 Imaging Research in Alzheimer's and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases Program (IR-AND)

PET imaging of neuroinflammation in dementia with Lewy bodies

Can imaging inflammation in the brain be used to track dementia progression?

Min-Jeong Kim, M.D., Ph.D.
SUNY at Stony Brook
Stony Brook, NY - United States


Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is a brain disease that can begin to develop in the brain many years before memory loss and other cognitive symptoms become evident. Researchers are identifying new ways to detect the early brain changes that occur during DLB to diagnose and treat the disease at its earliest stage when therapies could be the most effective. 

The immune system is complex and helps to maintain our overall health. In our brain, the immune system specifically serves to maintain healthy nerve cells. Individuals with DLB typically experience brain inflammation, which can damage nerve cells in the brain. Recent studies have shown that this brain inflammation occurs early during disease onset and could be a potential biological marker (biomarker) for diagnosis.

Research Plan

Dr. Min-Jeong Kim and colleagues have developed a special type of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging that could detect inflammation associated with DLB using brain scans. To test their new method, the researchers will recruit 24 individuals: 8 individuals with DLB, 8 individuals with mild cognitive impairment with Lewy bodies (early DLB), and 8 cognitively unimpaired individuals. Each participant will undergo PET imaging with the newly developed method. The team will then compare the levels of brain inflammation between participants with early or late-stage DLB and cognitively unimpaired individuals to study the link between brain inflammation and DLB disease progression.


The results of this project could identify a non-invasive and reliable method for detecting brain changes linked to DLB. If successful, the results could also be used to help diagnose DLB at an earlier stage.

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