In Vivo Detection of Age- and Disease-Related Increases in Neuroinflammation by 18F-GE180 TSPO MicroPET Imaging in Wild-Type and Alzheimer's Transgenic Mice


Bin Liu, Kevin X. Le, Mi-Ae Park, Shuyan Wang, Anthony P. Belanger, Shipra Dubey, Jeffrey L. Frost, Peter Holton, Vladimir Reiser, Paul A. Jones, William Trigg, Marcelo F. Di Carli, and Cynthia. A. Lemere


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia. Neuroinflammation appears to play an important role in AD pathogenesis. Ligands of the 18 kDa translocator protein (TSPO), a marker for activated microglia, have been used as positron emission tomography (PET) tracers to reflect neuroinflammation in humans and mouse models. Here, we used the novel TSPO-targeted PET tracer 18F-GE180 (flutriciclamide) to investigate differences in neuroinflammation between young and old WT and APP/PS1dE9 transgenic (Tg) mice. In vivo PET scans revealed an overt age-dependent elevation in whole-brain uptake of 18F-GE180 in both WT and Tg mice, and a significant increase in whole-brain uptake of 18F-GE180 (peak-uptake and retention) in old Tg mice compared with young Tg mice and all WT mice. Similarly, the 18F-GE180 binding potential in hippocampus was highest to lowest in old Tg > old WT > young Tg > young WT mice using MRI coregistration. Ex vivo PET and autoradiography analysis further confirmed our in vivo PET results: enhanced uptake and specific binding (SUV75%) of 18F-GE180 in hippocampus and cortex was highest in old Tg mice followed by old WT, young Tg, and finally young WT mice. 18F-GE180 specificity was confirmed by an in vivo cold tracer competition study. We also examined 18F-GE180 metabolites in 4-month-old WT mice and found that, although total radioactivity declined over 2 h, of the remaining radioactivity, ∼90% was due to parent 18F-GE180. In conclusion, 18F-GE180 PET scans may be useful for longitudinal monitoring of neuroinflammation during AD progression and treatment.

Microglial activation, a player in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis, is thought to reflect neuroinflammation. Using in vivo microPET imaging with a novel TSPO radioligand, 18F-GE180, we detected significantly enhanced neuroinflammation during normal aging in WT mice and in response to AD-associated pathology in APP/PS1dE9 Tg mice, an AD mouse model. Increased uptake and specific binding of 18F-GE180 in whole brain and hippocampus were confirmed by ex vivo PET and autoradiography. The binding specificity and stability of 18F-GE180 was further confirmed by a cold tracer competition study and a metabolite study, respectively. Therefore, 18F-GE180 PET imaging may be useful for longitudinal monitoring of neuroinflammation during AD progression and treatment and may also be useful for other neurodegenerative diseases.