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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jun 5;104(23):9800-5. Epub 2007 May 29.

[18F]MK-9470, a positron emission tomography (PET) tracer for in vivo human PET brain imaging of the cannabinoid-1 receptor.

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  • 1Imaging Research, Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, PA 19486, USA.


[(18)F]MK-9470 is a selective, high-affinity, inverse agonist (human IC(50), 0.7 nM) for the cannabinoid CB1 receptor (CB1R) that has been developed for use in human brain imaging. Autoradiographic studies in rhesus monkey brain showed that [(18)F]MK-9470 binding is aligned with the reported distribution of CB1 receptors with high specific binding in the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, caudate/putamen, globus pallidus, substantia nigra, and hippocampus. Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging studies in rhesus monkeys showed high brain uptake and a distribution pattern generally consistent with that seen in the autoradiographic studies. Uptake was blocked by pretreatment with a potent CB1 inverse agonist, MK-0364. The ratio of total to nonspecific binding in putamen was 4-5:1, indicative of a strong specific signal that was confirmed to be reversible via displacement studies with MK-0364. Baseline PET imaging studies in human research subject demonstrated behavior of [(18)F]MK-9470 very similar to that seen in monkeys, with very good test-retest variability (7%). Proof of concept studies in healthy young male human subjects showed that MK-0364, given orally, produced a dose-related reduction in [(18)F]MK-9470 binding reflecting CB1R receptor occupancy by the drug. Thus, [(18)F]MK-9470 has the potential to be a valuable, noninvasive research tool for the in vivo study of CB1R biology and pharmacology in a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders in humans. In addition, it allows demonstration of target engagement and noninvasive dose-occupancy studies to aid in dose selection for clinical trials of CB1R inverse agonists.

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