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Mol Imaging Biol. 2019 Jun 5. doi: 10.1007/s11307-019-01368-9. [Epub ahead of print]

Quantitative Rodent Brain Receptor Imaging.

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Werner Siemens Imaging Center, Department of Preclinical Imaging and Radiopharmacy, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.
Werner Siemens Imaging Center, Department of Preclinical Imaging and Radiopharmacy, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.
Department of Nuclear Medicine and Clinical Molecular Imaging, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.


Positron emission tomography (PET) is a non-invasive imaging technology employed to describe metabolic, physiological, and biochemical processes in vivo. These include receptor availability, metabolic changes, neurotransmitter release, and alterations of gene expression in the brain. Since the introduction of dedicated small-animal PET systems along with the development of many novel PET imaging probes, the number of PET studies using rats and mice in basic biomedical research tremendously increased over the last decade. This article reviews challenges and advances of quantitative rodent brain imaging to make the readers aware of its physical limitations, as well as to inspire them for its potential applications in preclinical research. In the first section, we briefly discuss the limitations of small-animal PET systems in terms of spatial resolution and sensitivity and point to possible improvements in detector development. In addition, different acquisition and post-processing methods used in rodent PET studies are summarized. We further discuss factors influencing the test-retest variability in small-animal PET studies, e.g., different receptor quantification methodologies which have been mainly translated from human to rodent receptor studies to determine the binding potential and changes of receptor availability and radioligand affinity. We further review different kinetic modeling approaches to obtain quantitative binding data in rodents and PET studies focusing on the quantification of endogenous neurotransmitter release using pharmacological interventions. While several studies have focused on the dopamine system due to the availability of several PET tracers which are sensitive to dopamine release, other neurotransmitter systems have become more and more into focus and are described in this review, as well. We further provide an overview of latest genome engineering technologies, including the CRISPR/Cas9 and DREADD systems that may advance our understanding of brain disorders and function and how imaging has been successfully applied to animal models of human brain disorders. Finally, we review the strengths and opportunities of simultaneous PET/magnetic resonance imaging systems to study drug-receptor interactions and challenges for the translation of PET results from bench to bedside.


Brain; Mice; PETĀ imaging; Rats; Receptor quantification


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