SPECT Imaging Studies

Single photon emission computed tomography or SPECT imaging enables real-time in vivo imaging to measure brain perfusion, inflammation, and biodistribution of novel compounds or cells. It is commonly used to study metabolic changes, cerebral blood flow and oxygen levels across models of neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. SPECT using technetium imaging (99mTc -exametazime (99mTc -HMPAO)) is a conventional method to assess cerebral blood flow in vivo and has been shown to correlate strongly with regional brain perfusion. This method is used in clinical nuclear imaging to detect stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases.

Technical Sheet

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SPECT employs several gamma radioactive compounds and various commercial ligands offer a straightforward method to follow pathological changes over time or competitive binding of potential drugs. SPECT imaging combined with CT (computerized tomography) scan is robust method of correlating anatomical information and functional information. Additionally, PET imaging using custom tracers can also be combined with SPECT/CT scans. Some of the agents that are used in SPECT/CT include 99mTc-HMPAO, 111In-oxine 123I-β-CIT, and 123I-CLINDE.


A well-studied application of SPECT/CT imaging is the application of 123Iodine beta-CIT as a diagnostic marker of Parkinson’s disease. It is used to analyze the condition of the striatum and to study the competitive binding affinity for presynaptic dopamine transporters (DAT) in the brains of mammals.

Preclinical SPECT Imaging Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What is small animal SPECT imaging used for?

    SPECT imaging is a valuable translational tool to assess the impact of therapeutic compounds on inflammation, cerebral blood flow and other neurophysiology processes in the brain.

  • How does preclinical SPECT work?

    Preclinical SPECT is similar to clinical SPECT in that the gamma ray emitting isotopes are the same and a gamma camera is used to capture 3D information of the brain.

  • Can SPECT be combined with other imaging modalities?

    SPECT can be easily combined with PET imaging and CT to get a complete anatomical, physiological and functional picture of the CNS. Additionally, these imaging modalities can be used to perform longitudinal studies where the same animal is imaged at various time points.