Specific α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor binding of [F-18]nifene in the rhesus monkey

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[F-18]Nifene is a PET radioligand developed to image α4β2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) in the brain. This work assesses the in vivo binding and imaging characteristics of [F-18]nifene in rhesus monkeys for the development of PET experiments examining nAChR binding.


Dynamic PET imaging experiments with [F-18]nifene were acquired in four anesthetized Macaca mulatta (rhesus) monkeys using a microPET P4 scanner. Data acquisition was initiated with a bolus injection of 109 ± 17 MBq [F-18]nifene and the time course of the radioligand in the brain was measured for up to 120 min. For two experiments, a displacement dose of (-)nicotine (0.03 mg kg−1, i.v.) was given 45–60 min post injection and followed 30 min later with a second [F-18]nifene injection to measure radioligand nondisplaceable uptake. Time activity curves were extracted in the regions of the antereoventral thalamus (AVT), lateral geniculate nucleus region (LGN), frontal cortex, and the cerebellum (CB).


The highest levels of [F-18]nifene uptake were observed in the AVT and LGN. Target-to-CB ratios reached maximum values of 3.3 ± 0.4 in the AVT and 3.2 ± 0.3 in the LGN 30–45 min postinjection. Significant binding of [F-18]nifene was observed in the subiculum, insula cortex, temporal cortex, cingulate gyrus, frontal cortex, striatum, and midbrain areas. The (-)nicotine displaced bound [F-18]nifene to near background levels within 15 min postdrug injection. No discernable displacement was observed in the CB, suggesting its potential as a reference region. Logan graphical estimates using the CB as a reference region yielded binding potentials of 1.6 ± 0.2 in the AVT and 1.3 ± 0.1 in the LGN. The postnicotine injection displayed uniform nondisplaceable uptake of [F-18]nifene throughout gray and white brain matter.


[F-18]Nifene exhibits rapid equilibration and a moderately high target to background binding profile in the α4β2* nAChR rich regions of the brain, thus providing favorable imaging characteristics as a PET radiotracer for nAChR assay. Synapse, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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