Journal article Open Access

[18F]GE-180: a novel TSPO radiotracer compared to [11C]PK11195 in a preclinical model of stroke.

Boutin, Hervé; Murray, Katie; Pradillo, Jesus; Maroy, Renaud; Smigova, Alison; Gerhard, Alexander; Jones, Paul A; Trigg, William

PURPOSE: Neuroinflammation plays a critical role in various neuropathological conditions, and hence there is renewed interest in the translocator protein (TSPO) as a biomarker of microglial activation and macrophage infiltration in the brain. This is reflected in the large amount of research conducted seeking to replace the prototypical PET radiotracer 11C-R-PK11195 with a TSPO ligand with higher performance. Here we report the in vivo preclinical investigation of the novel TSPO tracer 18F-GE-180 in a rat model of stroke.

METHODS: Focal cerebral ischaemia was induced in Wistar rats by 60-min occlusion of the middle cerebral artery (MCAO). Brain damage was assessed 24 h after MCAO by T2 MRI. Rats were scanned with 11C-R-PK11195 and 18F-GE-180 5 or 6 days after MCAO. Specificity of binding was confirmed by injection of unlabelled R-PK11195 or GE-180 20 min after injection of 18F-GE-180. In vivo data were confirmed by ex vivo immunohistochemistry for microglial (CD11b) and astrocytic biomarkers (GFAP).

RESULTS: 18F-GE-180 uptake was 24 % higher in the core of the ischaemic lesion and 18 % lower in the contralateral healthy tissue than that of 11C-R-PK11195 uptake (1.5 ± 0.2-fold higher signal to noise ratio). We confirmed this finding using the simplified reference tissue model (BPND = 3.5 ± 0.4 and 2.4 ± 0.5 for 18F-GE-180 and 11C-R-PK11195, respectively, with R 1 = 1). Injection of unlabelled R-PK11195 or GE-180 20 min after injection of 18F-GE-180 significantly displaced 18F-GE-180 (69 ± 5 % and 63 ± 4 %, respectively). Specificity of the binding was also confirmed by in vitro autoradiography, and the location and presence of activated microglia and infiltrated macrophages were confirmed by immunohistochemistry.

CONCLUSION: The in vivo binding characteristics of 18F-GE-180 demonstrate a better signal to noise ratio than 11C-R-PK11195 due to both a better signal in the lesion and lower nonspecific binding in healthy tissue. These results provide evidence that 18F-GE-180 is a strong candidate to replace 11C-R-PK11195.

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