Tracking Innate Immune Activation in a Mouse Model of Parkinson's Disease Using TREM1 and TSPO PET Tracers

Katherine L. Lucot, Marc Y. Stevens, T. Adam Bonham, E. Carmen Azevedo, Aisling M. Chaney, Ebony D. Webber, Poorva Jain, Jessica L. Klockow, Isaac M. Jackson, Mackenzie L. Carlson, Edward E. Graves, Thomas J. Montine, Michelle L. James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with aberrant innate immune responses, including microglial activation and infiltration of peripheral myeloid cells into the central nervous system (CNS). Methods to investigate innate immune activation in PD are limited and have not yet elucidated key interactions between neuroinflammation and peripheral inflammation. Translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO) PET is a widely evaluated imaging approach for studying activated microglia and peripheral myeloid lineage cells in vivo but has yet to be fully explored in PD. Here, we investigate the utility of TSPO PET in addition to PET imaging of triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 1 (TREM1)-a novel biomarker of proinflammatory innate immune cells-for detecting innate immune responses in the 6-hydroxydopamine mouse model of dopaminergic neuron degeneration. Methods: C57/BL6J and TREM1 knockout mice were stereotactically injected with 6-hydroxydopamine in the left striatum; control mice were injected with saline. At day 7 or 14 after surgery, mice were administered 18F-GE-180, 64Cu-TREM1 monoclonal antibody (mAb), or 64Cu-isotype control mAb and imaged by PET/CT. Ex vivo autoradiography was performed to obtain high-resolution images of tracer binding within the brain. Immunohistochemistry was conducted to verify myeloid cell activation and dopaminergic cell death, and quantitative polymerase chain reaction and flow cytometry were completed to assess levels of target in the brain. Results: PET/CT images of both tracers showed elevated signal within the striatum of 6-hydroxydopamine-injected mice compared with those injected with saline. Autoradiography afforded higher-resolution brain images and revealed significant TSPO and TREM1 tracer binding within the ipsilateral striatum of 6-hydroxydopamine mice compared with saline mice at both 7 and 14 d after toxin. Interestingly, 18F-GE-180 enabled detection of inflammation in the brain and peripheral tissues (blood and spleen) of 6-hydroxydopamine mice, whereas 64Cu-TREM1 mAb appeared to be more sensitive and specific for detecting neuroinflammation, in particular infiltrating myeloid cells, in these mice, as demonstrated by flow cytometry findings and higher tracer binding signal-to-background ratios in brain. Conclusion: TSPO and TREM1 PET tracers are promising tools for investigating different cell types involved in innate immune activation in the context of dopaminergic neurodegeneration, thus warranting further investigation in other PD rodent models and human postmortem tissue to assess their clinical potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1570-1578
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • molecular imaging
  • neuroinflammation
  • Parkinson’s disease


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