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J Nucl Med. 2004 Sep;45(9):1458-70.

Quantification of human nicotinic acetylcholine receptors with 123I-5IA SPECT.

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  • 1Department of Nuclear Medicine and Diagnostic Imaging, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.


Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are widely distributed in the human brain, especially the alpha4beta2 subtype of nAChR. The cholinergic systems have roles in various neurophysiologic functions, such as learning, memory, and cognition, whereas normal aging and neurodegenerative diseases have been associated with changes in nAChRs. Recently, 5-iodo-3-(2(S)-azetidinylmethoxy)pyridine (5IA) has been synthesized as a radioligand for imaging nAChRs with SPECT. 123I-5IA shows higher affinity toward the nAChR alpha4beta2 subtype, enhanced receptor subtype selectivity, good safety, and low nonspecific binding.


In this study, a SPECT quantitative study of human nAChRs binding with 123I-5IA was conducted in healthy volunteers. An arterial input function was obtained for each subject and a 2-compartment model was used to determine the kinetic parameters of 123I-5IA using data from a 6-h scan. The distribution volume (VT (mL/mL), which is related to the number of unoccupied binding sites in the brain, was calculated and values were compared with results of a graphical analysis (Logan plot, VLG).


Analysis of the unmetabolized compound showed a high parent fraction of 123I-5IA in plasma. The results from the 2-compartment model analysis showed high VT values for the thalamus; moderate values for the brain stem, cerebellum, and basal ganglia; and low values for the cortical regions. Good agreement was observed between VT values and results of autoradiographic experiments done in vitro for nAChR density in human brain. A high correlation index was observed between distribution volumes from model and graphical analyses.


Our results indicated that 123I-5IA SPECT is suitable for the quantification of nAChRs in human brain.

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