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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2019 Jul 15:271678X19864081. doi: 10.1177/0271678X19864081. [Epub ahead of print]

Validation and noninvasive kinetic modeling of [11C]UCB-J PET imaging in mice.

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1 Molecular Imaging Center Antwerp (MICA), University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium.
2 Department of Nuclear Medicine, Antwerp University Hospital, Edegem, Belgium.
3 CHDI Management/CHDI Foundation, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Synaptic pathology is associated with several brain disorders, thus positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2A (SV2A) using the radioligand [11C]UCB-J may provide a tool to measure synaptic alterations. Given the pivotal role of mouse models in understanding neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, this study aims to validate and characterize [11C]UCB-J in mice. We performed a blocking study to verify the specificity of the radiotracer to SV2A, examined kinetic models using an image-derived input function (IDIF) for quantification of the radiotracer, and investigated the in vivo metabolism. Regional TACs during baseline showed rapid uptake of [11C]UCB-J into the brain. Pretreatment with levetiracetam confirmed target engagement in a dose-dependent manner. VT (IDIF) values estimated with one- and two-tissue compartmental models (1TCM and 2TCM) were highly comparable (r=0.999, p < 0.0001), with 1TCM performing better than 2TCM for K1 (IDIF). A scan duration of 60 min was sufficient for reliable VT (IDIF) and K1 (IDIF) estimations. In vivo metabolism of [11C]UCB-J was relatively rapid, with a parent fraction of 22.5 ± 4.2% at 15 min p.i. In conclusion, our findings show that [11C]UCB-J selectively binds to SV2A with optimal kinetics in the mouse representing a promising tool to noninvasively quantify synaptic density in comparative or therapeutic studies in neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorder models.


Animal models; SV2A; kinetic modeling; positron emission tomography; synaptic density


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