Sequential [18F]FDG µPET whole-brain imaging of central vestibular compensation: a model of deafferentation-induced brain plasticity

Andreas Zwergal*, Julia Schlichtiger, Guoming Xiong, Roswitha Beck, Lisa Günther, Roman Schniepp, Florian Schöberl, Klaus Jahn, Thomas Brandt, Michael Strupp, Peter Bartenstein, Marianne Dieterich, Mayank B. Dutia, Christian la Fougère

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unilateral inner ear damage is followed by a rapid behavioural recovery due to central vestibular compensation. In this study, we utilized serial [18F]Fluoro-deoxyglucose ([18F]FDG)-µPET imaging in the rat to visualize changes in brain glucose metabolism during behavioural recovery after surgical and chemical unilateral labyrinthectomy, to determine the extent and time-course of the involvement of different brain regions in vestibular compensation and test previously described hypotheses of underlying mechanisms. Systematic patterns of relative changes of glucose metabolism (rCGM) were observed during vestibular compensation. A significant asymmetry of rCGM appeared in the vestibular nuclei, vestibulocerebellum, thalamus, multisensory vestibular cortex, hippocampus and amygdala in the acute phase of vestibular imbalance (4 h). This was followed by early vestibular compensation over 1–2 days where rCGM re-balanced between the vestibular nuclei, thalami and temporoparietal cortices and bilateral rCGM increase appeared in the hippocampus and amygdala. Subsequently over 2–7 days, rCGM increased in the ipsilesional spinal trigeminal nucleus and later (7–9 days) rCGM increased in the vestibulocerebellum bilaterally and the hypothalamus and persisted in the hippocampus. These systematic dynamic rCGM patterns during vestibular compensation, were confirmed in a second rat model of chemical unilateral labyrinthectomy by serial [18F]FDG-µPET. These findings show that deafferentation-induced plasticity after unilateral labyrinthectomy involves early mechanisms of re-balancing predominantly in the brainstem vestibular nuclei but also in thalamo-cortical and limbic areas, and indicate the contribution of spinocerebellar sensory inputs and vestibulocerebellar adaptation at the later stages of behavioural recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-170
Number of pages12
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number1
Early online date1 Oct 2014
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Oct 2014


  • Rat
  • Unilateral labyrinthectomy
  • Vestibular compensation
  • µPET


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