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Nucl Med Biol. 2009 Aug;36(6):651-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nucmedbio.2009.03.008.

Comparison of radiolabeled isatin analogs for imaging apoptosis with positron emission tomography.

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Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.



Caspase-3 is one of the executioner caspases activated as a result of apoptosis. Radiolabeled isatins bind to caspase-3 with high affinity and are potential tracers for use with positron emission tomography to image apoptosis. We compared the ability of two novel radiolabeled isatins, [18F]WC-IV-3 and [11C]WC-98, to detect caspase-3 activation in a rat model of cycloheximide-induced liver injury.


Male Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with cycloheximide and then imaged with microPET 3 h later with [18F]WC-IV-3 and [11C]WC-98. Biodistribution studies were also performed simultaneously, with caspase-3 activation verified by fluorometric enzyme assay and Western blots.


MicroPET imaging studies demonstrated similar behavior of both tracers but with a lower maximum peak with [11C]WC-98 than with [18F]WC-IV-3. Biodistribution studies demonstrated increased uptake of both tracers in the liver and spleen, but this was statistically significant only in the liver with both compounds. The level of [18F]WC-IV-3 uptake appeared to correlate roughly with rates of caspase-3 activation by the enzyme assay, but the magnitude of difference between treated and control groups was lower than that observed in previously published data with [18F]WC-II-89, another radiolabeled isatin analog. Activation was also confirmed in the liver and spleen but not in fat by Western blot.


[18F]WC-IV-3 uptake appears to correlate with increased caspase-3 enzyme activity, but the dynamic range of uptake of these two tracers appears to be less than that seen with [18F]WC-II-89. Studies are ongoing to verify these results in other animal models of apoptosis.

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