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J Nucl Med. 2012 Sep;53(9):1383-91. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.112.105734. Epub 2012 Jul 31.

The synthesis and in vivo pharmacokinetics of fluorinated arachidonic acid: implications for imaging neuroinflammation.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, UCSD Center for Molecular Imaging, University of California San Diego, San Diego, California 92121, USA.


Arachidonic acid (AA) is found in high concentrations in brain phospholipids and is released as a second messenger during neurotransmission and much more so during neuroinflammation and excitotoxicity. Upregulated brain AA metabolism associated with neuroinflammation has been imaged in rodents using [1-(14)C]AA and with PET in Alzheimer disease patients using [1-(11)C]AA. Radiotracer brain AA uptake is independent of cerebral blood flow, making it an ideal tracer despite altered brain functional activity. However, the 20.4-min radioactive half-life of (11)C-AA and challenges of routinely synthesizing (11)C fatty acids limit their translational utility as PET biomarkers.


As a first step to develop a clinically useful (18)F-fluoroarachidonic acid ((18)F-FAA) with a long radioactive half-life of 109.8 min, we report here a high-yield stereoselective synthetic method of nonradioactive 20-(19)F-FAA. We tested its in vivo pharmacokinetics by infusing purified nonradioactive (19)F-FAA intravenously for 5 min at 2 doses in unanesthetized mice and measured its plasma and brain distribution using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.


Incorporation coefficients of injected (19)F-FAA into brain phospholipids (ratio of brain (19)F-FAA concentration to plasma input function) were 3- to 29-fold higher for choline glycerophospholipid and phosphatidylinositol than for ethanolamine glycerophospholipid and phosphatidylserine at each of the 2 tested doses. The selectivities and values of incorporation coefficients were comparable to those reported after [1-(14)C]AA (the natural arachidonate) infusion in mice.


These results suggest that it would be worthwhile to translate our stereoselective synthetic method for (19)F-FAA to synthesize positron-emitting (18)F-FAA for human brain AA metabolism in neuroinflammatory disorders such as Alzheimer disease.

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