Evaluation of drug effects on cerebral blood flow and glucose uptake in un-anesthetized and un-stimulated rats: application of free-moving apparatus enabling to keep rats free during PET/SPECT tracer injection and uptake

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The purpose of this study is the development of novel fluorine-18-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG)-PET and 99mTc-hexamethylpropylene amine oxime (HMPAO) SPECT methods with free-moving apparatus on conscious rats to investigate brain activity without the effects of anesthesia and tactual stimulation. We also assessed the sensitivity of the experimental system by an intervention study using fluoxetine as a reference drug.

Materials and methods

A catheter was inserted into the femoral vein and connected to a free-moving cannula system. After fluoxetine administration, the rats were given an injection of 18F-FDG or 99mTc-HMPAO via the intravenous cannula and released into a free-moving cage. After the tracer was trapped in the brain, the rats were anesthetized and scanned with PET or SPECT scanners. Then a volume of interest analysis and statistical parametric mapping were performed.


We could inject the tracer without touching the rats, while keeping them conscious until the tracers were distributed and trapped in the brain using the developed system. The effects of fluoxetine on glucose uptake and cerebral blood flow were perceptively detected by volume of interest and statistical parametric mapping analysis.


We successfully developed free-moving 18F-FDG-PET and 99mTc-HMPAO-SPECT imaging systems and detected detailed glucose uptake and cerebral blood flow changes in the conscious rat brain with fluoxetine administration. This system is expected to be useful to assess brain activity without the effects of anesthesia and tactual stimulation to evaluate drug effect or animal brain function.

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