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Synapse. 2007 Sep;61(9):707-14.

Time-course of change in [11C]carfentanil and [11C]raclopride binding potential after a nonpharmacological challenge.

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Department of Psychiatry and Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0720, USA.


Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with appropriate radiotracers and quantification methods allows the detection of changes in endogenous neurotransmission by determine the reduction in the binding potential (BP) of receptors before and after experimental challenges. These have typically employed psychostimulants and PET with dopamine (DA) receptor radiotracers. However, reductions in BP persist far beyond the increases in the release of the endogenous neurotransmitter, an effect ascribed to receptor internalization and recycling, a possible confound in repeated studies. Here we examined the time-course of changes in BP during a nonpharmacological challenge, moderate levels of sustained pain, shown to induce robust reductions in micro-opioid and DA D2 BP, as measured with [(11)C]carfentanil and [(11)C]raclopride. It was hypothesized that, contrary to pharmacological probes, the use of a more "physiological" stimulus would not be associated with persistent changes in the BP measures. The pain challenge was associated with reductions in micro-opioid receptor BP in several cortical and subcortical regions. These did not persist in a subsequent scan. Similar results were obtained for DA D2 receptor BP, where the pain challenge induced significant reductions in the caudate nucleus. These data demonstrate that changes in receptor BP induced by a nonpharmacological challenge did not persist into subsequent scans. They further suggest differences in the effect of pharmacological and nonpharmacological probes on PET BP measures. These may reflect varying levels of change in receptor affinity, receptor internalization, and recycling depending on the type of challenge employed.

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