Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine

PET brain imaging of neuropeptide Y2 receptors using N-11C-methyl-JNJ-31020028 in pigs.

PMID 24614224


Neuropeptide Y2 (NPY2) receptors are implicated in diverse brain disorders, but no suitable PET radiotracers are currently available for studying NPY2 receptors in the living brain. We developed a novel positron-emitting radioligand based on the NPY2 receptor antagonist JNJ-31020028 (N-(4-(4-[2-(diethylamino)-2-oxo-1-phenylethyl]piperazin-1-yl)-3-fluorophenyl)-2-pyridin-3-ylbenzamide) and used the radiotracer for PET brain imaging in pigs. In vitro receptor autoradiography studies were performed to establish the anatomic distribution of NPY2 receptors in the pig brain. In vivo, baseline 90-min PET recordings of N-(11)C-methyl-JNJ-31020028 were conducted in anesthetized Yorkshire x Landrace pigs, concurrent with arterial blood sampling. Postchallenge scans were conducted after injection of unlabeled JNJ-31020028 as a pharmacologic intervention. Cyclosporine A was used to enhance levels of the PET radiotracer in the brain. The PET images were manually coregistered to a MR imaging atlas of the pig brain. Maps of the N-(11)C-methyl-JNJ-31020028 volume of distribution in the brain were prepared, and regional binding potentials of NPY2 receptors toward the radioligand were calculated using the simplified reference tissue method. In autoradiography studies, N-(11)C-methyl-JNJ-31020028 receptor binding sites were observed primarily in the hippocampus and were inhibited by unlabeled JNJ-31020028. In PET studies, N-(11)C-methyl-JNJ-31020028 was metabolized slowly in the bloodstream, with 25% of the (11)C-labeled parent compound remaining 30 min after injection. PET imaging showed baseline binding potentials of 0.64 ± 0.07 in the thalamus, 0.55 ± 0.02 in the caudate, and 0.49 ± 0.03 in the hippocampus. Graphical reference region analyses demonstrated that N-(11)C-methyl-JNJ-31020028 binding was reversible; infusion of unlabeled JNJ-31020028 markedly displaced the PET radioligand from binding sites in the hippocampus, thalamus, caudate nucleus, and cerebellum but not in the corpus callosum, which served as reference region for nonspecific binding. N-(11)C-methyl-JNJ-31020028 has several suitable properties for PET neuroimaging of NPY2 receptors. First, it is metabolized slowly in the bloodstream of pigs. Second, using cyclosporine, the target-to-background ratio of N-(11)C-methyl-JNJ-31020028 is sufficient for estimating pharmacokinetic parameters. Third, N-(11)C-methyl-JNJ-31020028 binds reversibly and competitively to cerebral sites known to contain relatively high numbers of NPY2 receptors, such as the hippocampus, thalamus, caudate nucleus, and cerebellum. Fourth, white matter such as corpus callosum, known to contain negligible numbers of NPY2 receptors, can serve as a reference region for estimating binding potentials in brain regions. To our knowledge, there is no other radioligand with these favorable properties and with this specificity for NPY2 receptors, which makes N-(11)C-methyl-JNJ-31020028 the first candidate radioligand for PET investigations of NPY2 receptors in the living brain.