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Synapse. 1992 Jun;11(2):134-9.

[123/125I]RTI-55, an in vivo label for the serotonin transporter.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland 21205.


[123I]RTI-55, an iodinated derivative of the cocaine analog 3 beta-phenyltropane-2 beta-carboxylic acid methyl ester, was evaluated as an agent for in vivo labeling of the serotonin transporter. Labeling of the precursor of RTI-55 with I-123 was efficient and yielded a high specific activity product. After intravenous injection of [123I]RTI-55 into rats, the tracer accumulated in regions with high densities of serotonin and dopamine uptake sites. The distribution of [123I]RTI-55 binding in areas rich in serotonin uptake sites correlated with [3H]serotonin uptake measured in vitro in the same regions. Specific [123I]RTI-55 binding to serotonin uptake sites was inhibited by paroxetine but not by GBR 12,909. Treatment of rats with neurotoxic doses of fenfluramine caused decreases of 66% (in the hypothalamus) to 83% (in the superior colliculi) of specific [125I]RTI-55 binding in all areas except in the striatum and the olfactory tubercles (regions rich in dopamine transporters). These results indicate that [123/125I]RTI-55 binds, although not selectively, to the serotonin transporter in vivo. Furthermore, they suggest that [123I]RTI-55 holds promise as a SPECT imaging agent for the study of the serotonin transporter in humans in health and disease.

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