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J Neurosci. 2017 Nov 1;37(44):10671-10678. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1971-17.2017. Epub 2017 Oct 2.

Functional Characterization of 5-HT1B Receptor Drugs in Nonhuman Primates Using Simultaneous PET-MR.

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Neurobiology Research Unit and NeuroPharm, Copenhagen University Hospital (Rigshospitalet), 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark,
MGH/HST A. A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, and.
Neurobiology Research Unit and NeuroPharm, Copenhagen University Hospital (Rigshospitalet), 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark.


In the present study, we used a simultaneous PET-MR experimental design to investigate the effects of functionally different compounds (agonist, partial agonist, and antagonist) on 5-HT1B receptor (5-HT1BR) occupancy and the associated hemodynamic responses. In anesthetized male nonhuman primates (n = 3), we used positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with the radioligand [11C]AZ10419369 administered as a bolus followed by constant infusion to measure changes in 5-HT1BR occupancy. Simultaneously, we measured changes in cerebral blood volume (CBV) as a proxy of drug effects on neuronal activity. The 5-HT1BR partial agonist AZ10419369 elicited a dose-dependent biphasic hemodynamic response that was related to the 5-HT1BR occupancy. The magnitude of the response was spatially overlapping with high cerebral 5-HT1BR densities. High doses of AZ10419369 exerted an extracranial tissue vasoconstriction that was comparable to the less blood-brain barrier-permeable 5-HT1BR agonist sumatriptan. By contrast, injection of the antagonist GR127935 did not elicit significant hemodynamic responses, even at a 5-HT1BR cerebral occupancy similar to the one obtained with a high dose of AZ10419369. Given the knowledge we have of the 5-HT1BR and its function and distribution in the brain, the hemodynamic response informs us about the functionality of the given drug: changes in CBV are only produced when the receptor is stimulated by the partial agonist AZ10419369 and not by the antagonist GR127935, consistent with low basal occupancy by endogenous serotonin.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT We here show that combined simultaneous positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging uniquely enables the assessment of CNS active compounds. We conducted a series of pharmacological interventions to interrogate 5-HT1B receptor binding and function and determined blood-brain barrier passage of drugs and demonstrate target involvement. Importantly, we show how the spatial and temporal effects on brain hemodynamics provide information about pharmacologically driven downstream CNS drug effects; the brain hemodynamic response shows characteristic dose-related effects that differ depending on agonistic or antagonistic drug characteristics and on local 5-HT1B receptor density. The technique lends itself to a comprehensive in vivo investigation and understanding of drugs' effects in the brain.


5-HT1B; PET-MR imaging; nonhuman primates; pharmacology

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