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Am J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2013;3(1):71-84. Epub 2013 Jan 5.

Synthesis and preclinical evaluation of a new C-6 alkylated pyrimidine derivative as a PET imaging agent for HSV1-tk gene expression.

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Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ETH Zurich Wolfgang-Pauli Strasse 10, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland.


[(18)F]FHOMP (6-((1-[(18)F]-fluoro-3-hydroxypropan-2-yloxy)methyl)-5-methylpyrimidine-2,4(1H,3H)-dione), a C-6 substituted pyrimidine derivative, has been synthesized and evaluated as a potential PET agent for imaging herpes simplex virus type 1 thymidine kinase (HSV1-tk) gene expression. [(18)F]FHOMP was prepared by the reaction of the tosylated precursor with tetrabutylammonium [(18)F]-fluoride followed by acidic cleavage of the protecting groups. In vitro cell accumulation of [(18)F]FHOMP and [(18)F]FHBG (reference) was studied with HSV1-tk transfected HEK293 (HEK293TK+) cells. Small animal PET and biodistribution studies were performed with HEK293TK+ xenograft-bearing nude mice. The role of equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (ENT1) in the transport and uptake of [(18)F] FHOMP was also examined in nude mice after treatment with ENT1 inhibitor nitrobenzylmercaptopurine ribonucleoside phosphate (NBMPR-P). [(18)F]FHOMP was obtained in a radiochemical yield of ~25% (decay corrected) and the radiochemical purity was greater than 95%. The uptake of [(18)F]FHOMP in HSV1-TK containing HEK293TK+ cells was 52 times (at 30 min) and 244 times (at 180 min) higher than in control HEK293 cells. The uptake ratios between HEK293TK+ and HEK293 control cells for [(18)F]FHBG were significantly lower i.e. 5 (at 30 min) and 81 (240 min). In vivo, [(18)F]FHOMP accumulated to a similar extend in HEK293TK+ xenografts as [(18)F]FHBG but with a higher general background. Blocking of ENT1 reduced [(18)F]FHOMP uptake into brain from a standardized uptake value (SUV) of 0.10±0.01 to 0.06±0.02, but did not reduce the general background signal in PET. Although [(18)F]FHOMP does not outperform [(18)F]FHBG in its in vivo performance, this novel C-6 pyrimidine derivative may be a useful probe for monitoring HSV1-tk gene expression in vivo.


HSV1-TK; PET; [18F]FHBG; [18F]FHOMP; gene expression monitoring; reporter gene


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