Synthesis, characterization, and preclinical validation of a PET radiopharmaceutical for interrogating Aβ (β-amyloid) plaques in Alzheimer’s disease

Guruswami S.M. Sundaram, Dhruva Dhavale, Julie L. Prior, Jothilingam Sivapackiam, Richard Laforest, Paul Kotzbauer, Vijay Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: PET radiopharmaceuticals capable of imaging β-amyloid (Aβ) plaque burden in the brain could offer highly valuable diagnostic tools for clinical studies of Alzheimer’s disease. To further supplement existing armamentarium of FDA-approved agents as well as those under development, and to correlate multiphoton-imaging data reported earlier, herein, we describe preclinical validation of a PET tracer. Methods: A novel PET radiopharmaceutical (18F-7B) was synthesized and characterized. To assess its affinity for Aβ, binding assays with Aβ1-42 fibrils, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) homogenates, and autoradiography studies and their IHC correlations were performed. For assessing its overall pharmacokinetic profiles in general and its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in particular, biodistribution studies in normal mice were performed. Finally, for evaluating potential for 18F-7B to serve as a targeted Aβ probe, the microPET/CT imaging was performed in age-matched amyloid precursor protein/presenilin-1 (APP/PS1) mice and wild-type (WT) counterparts. Results: The radiotracer 18F-7B shows saturable binding to autopsy-confirmed AD homogenates (Kd = 17.7 nM) and Aβ1-42 fibrils (Kd = 61 nM). Preliminary autoradiography studies show binding of 18F-7B to cortical Aβ plaques in autopsy-confirmed AD tissue sections, inhibition of that binding by unlabeled counterpart 7A-indicating specificity, and a good correlation of tracer binding with Aβ immunostaining. The agent indicates high initial penetration into brains (7.23 ± 0.47%ID/g; 5 min) of normal mice, thus indicating a 5-min/120-min brain uptake clearance ratio of 4.7, a benchmark value (>4) consistent with the ability of agents to traverse the BBB to enable PET brain imaging. Additionally, 18F-7B demonstrates the presence of parental species in human serum. Preliminary microPET/CT imaging demonstrates significantly higher retention of 18F-7B in brains of transgenic mice compared with their WT counterparts, consistent with expected binding of the radiotracer to Aβ plaques, present in APP/PS1 mice, compared with their age-matched WT counterparts lacking those Aβ aggregates. Conclusions: These data offer a platform scaffold conducive to further optimization for developing new PET tracers to study Aβ pathophysiology in vitro and in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Article number33
JournalEJNMMI Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 27 2015


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • PET imaging
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • β-amyloid (Aβ)


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