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Evaluation of 18F-nifene binding to α4β2 nicotinic receptors in the rat brain using microPET imaging

Ritu Kant, Cristian C Constantinescu, Puja Parekh, Suresh K Pandey, Min-Liang Pan, Balu Easwaramoorthy and Jogeshwar Mukherjee*

Author Affiliations

Preclinical Imaging Center, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697, USA

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EJNMMI Research 2011, 1:6  doi:10.1186/2191-219X-1-6

Published: 20 June 2011


MicroPET imaging studies using 18F-nifene, a new positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracer for nicotinic acetylcholinergic receptors (nAChR) α4β2 receptors in rats, have been carried out. Rats were imaged for 90 min after intravenous injection of 18F-nifene (0.8 to 1 mCi), and binding potential (BPND) was measured. 18F-Nifene binding to thalamic and extrathalamic brain regions was consistent with the α4β2 nAChR distribution in the rat brain. Using the cerebellum as a reference, the values for the thalamus varied less than 5% (BPND = 1.30, n = 3), confirming reproducibility of 18F-nifene binding. 18F-Nifene microPET imaging was also used to evaluate effects of nicotine in a group of Sprague-Dawley rats under isoflurane anesthesia. Nicotine challenge postadministration of 18F-nifene demonstrated reversibility of 18F-nifene binding in vivo. For α4β2 nAChR receptor occupancy (nAChROCC), various doses of nicotine (0, 0.02, 0.1, 0.25, and 0.50 mg/kg nicotine free base) 15 min prior to 18F-nifene were administered. Low-dose nicotine (0.02 mg) reached > 80% nAChROCC while at higher doses (0.25 mg) > 90% nAChROCC was measured. The small amount of 18F-nifene binding with reference to the cerebellum affects an accurate evaluation of nAChROCC. Efforts are underway to identify alternate reference regions for 18F-nifene microPET studies in rodents.