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J Nucl Med. 2012 Mar;53(3):451-8. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.111.096388. Epub 2012 Feb 8.

18F-FEAnGA for PET of β-glucuronidase activity in neuroinflammation.

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  • 1Department of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Activation of microglia is a hallmark of inflammatory, infectious, and degenerative diseases of the central nervous system. Several studies have indicated that there is an increase in release of β-glucuronidase by activated microglia into the extracellular space at the site of neuroinflammation. β-glucuronidase is involved in the hydrolysis of glycosaminoglycans on the cell surface and the degradation of the extracellular matrix. Therefore, β-glucuronidase might be a biomarker for ongoing neurodegeneration induced by neuroinflammation. In this study, we investigated whether the PET tracer (18)F-FEAnGA was able to detect β-glucuronidase release during neuroinflammation in a rat model of herpes encephalitis.


Male Wistar rats were intranasally inoculated with herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) or phosphate-buffered saline as a control. (11)C-(R)-PK11195 and (18)F-FEAnGA small-animal PET scans were acquired for 60 min. Logan graphical analysis was used to calculate (18)F-FEAnGA distribution volumes (DV(Logan)) in various brain areas.


After administration of (18)F-FEAnGA, the area under the activity concentration-versus-time curve of the whole brain was 2 times higher in HSV-1-infected rats than in control rats. In addition, the DV(Logan) of (18)F-FEAnGA was most increased in the frontopolar cortex, frontal cortex, bulbus olfactorius, cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and brainstem of HSV-1-infected rats, when compared with control rats. The conversion of (18)F-FEAnGA to 4-hydroxy-3-nitrobenzyl alcohol was found to be 1.6 times higher in HSV-1-infected rats than in control rats and correlated with the DV(Logan) of (18)F-FEAnGA in the same areas of the brain. Furthermore, the DV(Logan) of (18)F-FEAnGA also correlated with β-glucuronidase activity in the same brain regions. In addition, DV(Logan) of (18)F-FEAnGA showed a tendency to correlate with (11)C-(R)-PK11195 uptake (marker for activated microglia) in the same brain regions.


Despite relatively low brain uptake, (18)F-FEAnGA was able to detect an increased release of β-glucuronidase during neuroinflammation.

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