OPEN Research Support

PhD student
Lotte Bo Petersen
Department of Psychiatry, Odense University Hospital

Projekt styring
Projekt status    Sampling ongoing
Data indsamlingsdatoer
Start 01.03.2017  
Slut 29.02.2020  

Neurobiology of autism spectrum disorders revealed by in vivo PET

Short summary

The etiology of autism spectrum disorders is yet unknown and therefore there is no target for potential treatment. We wish to study the etiology by making PET-scans with acetat, FDG and water. The acetat-scan is going shed light over the theory that patients with autism spectrum disorders has a higher level of oxidative stress. The water and the FDG-scan is going to give an overview of the glucose metabolism of the brain, and hopefully FDG can be used as a surrogate marker for dendritic spine density. 


Autism is a developmental disorder defined as a phenotypic presentation of alterations of social interaction, communication and repetitive interests and behavior. The prevalence is 1-1,5%.

It has not been possible to completely discover the etiology of autism.

Evidence suggests an imbalance between neurodegeneration and regeneration, identifying reactive oxygen species as an important regulatory signal in the neurobiology of autism.

Evidence has revealed a role of dendritic spines in neuronal plasticity and maturation, with differences identified among individuals with neurodegenerative disorders and healthy controls. According to these findings, autism is characterized by greater than normal density of dendritic spines in cerebral cortex.

The purpose of this study is to use in vivo PET to determine the role of oxidative stress and altered dendritic spine densities in the brains of patients with autism. We will use values of glucose consumption as a surrogate measure of dendritic spine density and measure the brains acetate consumption as a surrogate measure for oxidative stress, this may reveal novel targets of treatment of these patients. We plan to conduct three scans. This will be done by making three PET-scans with H2O, FDG and C-labeled acetat on a PET/MRI scanner. 

Description of the cohort

All patients who is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders from child and adolescent psychiatric department of Odense and is over 18 years of age is entered into a cohort.

50 of these will be recruited and scanned.

50 healthy controls who are age and gender matched will also be scanned. 

Data and biological material

My data will consist of three PET-scans pr patient and controls these scans will be merged with and MRI-scan.

Collaborating researchers and departments

Department of Psychiatry, Odense University Hospital

  • Professor Tanja Sheldrick-Michel, MD
Department of Nuklear Medicine, Odense University Hospital
  • Professor Poul Fl. Høilund-Carlsen, MD
  • Associate professor Manouchehr Seyedi Vafaee
Department of Neuroscience and Farmacology, University of Copenhagen
  • Professor Albert Gjedde, MD

Department of Child- and Adolescent Psychiatry, Odense University Hospital
  • Professor Niels Bilenberg, PhD