Honors & Awards

  • Exceptional Mentor Award, American Medical Women’s Association (2018)
  • SNMMI Journal of Nuclear Medicine Editor’s Choice - Best Article Award, Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (2016)
  • Suffrage Science Award, Medical Research Council (2016)
  • Alavi-Mandell Award, Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (2015)
  • First Prize Poster & Abstract Award, TSPO Symposium on Microglia Imaging & Biology - Manchester, UK, - (2014)
  • Poster Presentation Award, World Molecular Imaging Congress - Savannah, Georgia, - (2013)
  • Travel Fellowship, Alzheimer's Association International Conference - Boston, USA, - (2013)
  • Travel Award, World Molecular Imaging Congress - Kyoto, Japan, - (2010)
  • Travel Award, International Symposium on Radiopharmaceutical Sciences - Aachen, Germany, - (2007)
  • Best Oral Presentation Award, Royal Australian Chemistry Institute Drug Design Conference, - (2006)
  • Australian Postgraduate Award, - (2005-2008)
  • John A Lamberton Research Scholarship, - (2005-2008)
  • Travel Award, International Symposium on Radiopharmaceutical Sciences - Iowa, USA, - (2005)
  • First Class Honours in Pharmacology, - (2004)
  • University Medal, The University of Sydney (2004)
  • Dean’s Honour List, - (2003)
  • Roland H. Thorp Prize in Pharmacology, - (2003)

Professional Education

  • Ph.D., University of Sydney, Pharmacology (2008)
  • B.S., University of Sydney, Pharmacology/Medicinal Chemistry (2004)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

The primary aim of my lab is to enable early detection and precision treatment of devastating brain diseases by developing translational molecular imaging agents for visualizing neuroimmune interactions underlying conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke.

We are researching how the brain and its resident immune cells interact with the peripheral immune system at very early, through to late stages of disease. Our approach involves the discovery, characterization, and validation of clinically relevant immune cell biomarkers, followed by the design of novel positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracers specifically targeting these biomarkers. After preclinical validation, we translate promising imaging probes to the clinic for precision targeting of immunomodulatory therapeutics and real-time monitoring of treatment response.

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • TSPO-PET Imaging Using [18F]PBR06 is a Potential Translatable Biomarker for Treatment Response in Huntington's Disease: Preclinical Evidence with the p75NTR Ligand LM11A-31. Human molecular genetics Simmons, D. A., James, M. L., Belichenko, N. P., Semaan, S., Condon, C., Kuan, J., Shuhendler, A. J., Miao, Z., Chin, F. T., Longo, F. M. 2018


    Huntington's Disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder that has no cure. HD therapeutic development would benefit from a non-invasive translatable biomarker to track disease progression and treatment response. A potential biomarker is using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with a translocator protein 18kDa (TSPO) radiotracer to detect microglial activation, a key contributor to HD pathogenesis. The ability of TSPO-PET to identify microglial activation in HD mouse models, essential for a translatable biomarker, or therapeutic efficacy in HD patients or mice is unknown. Thus, this study assessed the feasibility of utilizing PET imaging with the TSPO tracer, [18F]PBR06, to detect activated microglia in multiple HD mouse models and to monitor response to treatment with LM11A-31, a p75NTR ligand known to reduce neuroinflammation in HD mice. [18F]PBR06-PET detected microglial activation in striatum, cortex and hippocampus of vehicle-treated R6/2 mice at a late disease stage and, notably, also in early and mid-stage symptomatic BACHD mice. After oral administration of LM11A-31 to R6/2 and BACHD mice, [18F]PBR06-PET discerned the reductive effects of LM11A-31 on neuroinflammation in both HD mouse models. [18F]PBR06-PET signal had a spatial distribution similar to ex vivo brain autoradiography and correlated with microglial activation markers: increased IBA-1 and TSPO immunostaining/blotting and striatal levels of cytokines IL-6 and TNFalpha. These results suggest [18F]PBR06-PET as a surrogate marker of therapeutic efficacy in HD mice with high potential as a translatable biomarker for preclinical and clinical HD trials.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/hmg/ddy202

    View details for PubMedID 29860333

  • Successful treatment of chronic knee pain following localization by a sigma-1 receptor radioligand and PET/MRI: a case report JOURNAL OF PAIN RESEARCH Cipriano, P., Lee, S., Yoon, D., Shen, B., Tawfik, V., Curtin, C., Dragoo, J. L., James, M., Mccurdy, C., Chin, F., Biswal, S. 2018; 11: 2353–56


    The ability to accurately diagnose and objectively localize pain generators in chronic pain sufferers remains a major clinical challenge since assessment relies on subjective patient complaints and relatively non-specific diagnostic tools. Developments in clinical molecular imaging, including advances in imaging technology and radiotracer design, have afforded the opportunity to identify tissues involved in pain generation based on their pro-nociceptive condition. The sigma-1 receptor (S1R) is a pro-nociceptive receptor upregulated in painful, inflamed tissues, and it can be imaged using the highly specific radioligand 18F-FTC-146 with PET.A 50-year-old woman with a 7-year history of refractory, left-knee pain of unknown origin was referred to our pain management team. Over the past several years, she had undergone multiple treatments, including a lateral retinacular release, radiofrequency ablation of a peripheral nerve, and physical therapy. While certain treatments provided partial relief, her pain would inevitably return to its original state. Using simultaneous positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI) with the novel radiotracer 18F-FTC-146, imaging showed increased focal uptake of 18F-FTC-146 in the intercondylar notch, corresponding to an irregular but equivocal lesion identified in the simultaneously acquired MRI. These imaging results prompted surgical removal of the lesion, which upon resection was identified as an inflamed, intraarticular synovial lipoma. Removal of the lesion relieved the patient's pain, and to date the pain has not recurred.We present a case of chronic, debilitating knee pain that resolved with surgery following identification of the pathology with a novel clinical molecular imaging approach that detects chronic pain generators at the molecular and cellular level. This approach has the potential to identify and localize pain-associated pathology in a variety of chronic pain syndromes.

    View details for DOI 10.2147/JPR.S167839

    View details for Web of Science ID 000447159100003

    View details for PubMedID 30349360

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6190812

  • 11C-DPA-713 versus 18F-GE-180: A preclinical comparison of TSPO-PET tracers to visualize acute and chronic neuroinflammation in a mouse model of ischemic stroke. Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine Chaney, A., Cropper, H. C., Johnson, E. M., Lechtenberg, K. J., Peterson, T. C., Stevens, M. Y., Buckwalter, M. S., James, M. L. 2018


    Neuroinflammation plays a key role in neuronal injury following ischemic stroke. Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO) permits longitudinal, non-invasive visualization of neuroinflammation in both pre-clinical and clinical settings. Many TSPO tracers have been developed, however it is unclear which tracer is the most sensitive and accurate for monitoring the in vivo spatiotemporal dynamics of neuroinflammation across applications. Hence, there is a need for head-to-head comparisons of promising TSPO-PET tracers across different disease states. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to directly compare two promising second-generation TSPO tracers; 11C-DPA-713 and 18F-GE-180, for the first time at acute and chronic time-points following ischemic stroke. Methods: Following distal middle cerebral artery occlusion (dMCAO) or sham surgery, mice underwent consecutive PET/CT imaging with 11C-DPA-713 and 18F-GE-180 at 2, 6, and 28 days after stroke. T2-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) images were acquired to enable delineation of ipsilateral (infarct) and contralateral brain regions of interest (ROIs). PET images were analyzed by calculating % injected dose per gram (%ID/g) in MR-guided ROIs. Standardized uptake value ratios were determined using the contralateral thalamus as a pseudo-reference region (SUVTh). Ex vivo autoradiography and immunohistochemistry were performed to verify in vivo findings. Results: Significantly increased tracer uptake was observed in the ipsilateral compared to contralateral ROI (SUVTh, 50-60 min summed data) at acute and chronic time-points using 11C-DPA-713 and 18F-GE-180. Ex vivo autoradiography confirmed in vivo findings demonstrating increased TSPO-tracer uptake in infarcted versus contralateral brain tissue. Importantly, a significant correlation was identified between microglial/macrophage activation (CD68 immunostaining) and 11C-DPA-713-PET signal, that was not evident with 18F-GE-180. No significant correlations were observed between TSPO-PET and activated astrocytes (GFAP immunostaining). Conclusion: Both 11C-DPA-713 and 18F-GE-180-PET enable detection of neuroinflammation at early and chronic time-points following cerebral ischemia in mice. 11C-DPA-713-PET reflects the extent of microglial activation in infarcted dMCAO mouse brain tissue more accurately compared to 18F-GE-180, and appears to be slightly more sensitive. These results highlight the potential of 11C-DPA-713 for tracking microglial activation in vivo after stroke, and warrants further investigation in both pre-clinical and clinical settings.

    View details for DOI 10.2967/jnumed.118.209155

    View details for PubMedID 29976695

  • [18F]FSPG-PET reveals increased cystine/glutamate antiporter (xc-) activity in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis Journal of Neuroinflammation Hoehne, A., James, M. L., Alam, I. S., Ronald, J., Schneider, B., D'Souza, A., Witney, T. H., Andrews, L., Cropper, H., Behera, D., Gowrishankar, G., Ding, Z., Wyss-Coray, T., Chin, F., Biswal, S., Gambhir, S. S. 2018; 15 (1)
  • PET Imaging of Neuroinflammation Using [11C]DPA-713 in a Mouse Model of Ischemic Stroke JoVE Chaney, A., Johnson, E. M., Cropper, H. C., James, M. L. 2018

    View details for DOI 10.3791/57243

  • Imaging activated T cells predicts response to cancer vaccines. The Journal of clinical investigation Alam, I. S., Mayer, A. T., Sagiv-Barfi, I., Wang, K., Vermesh, O., Czerwinski, D. K., Johnson, E. M., James, M. L., Levy, R., Gambhir, S. S. 2018


    In situ cancer vaccines are under active clinical investigation, given their reported ability to eradicate both local and disseminated malignancies. Intratumoral vaccine administration is thought to activate a T cell-mediated immune response, which begins in the treated tumor and cascades systemically. In this study, we describe a PET tracer (64Cu-DOTA-AbOX40) that enabled noninvasive and longitudinal imaging of OX40, a cell-surface marker of T cell activation. We report the spatiotemporal dynamics of T cell activation following in situ vaccination with CpG oligodeoxynucleotide in a dual tumor-bearing mouse model. We demonstrate that OX40 imaging was able to predict tumor responses on day 9 after treatment on the basis of tumor tracer uptake on day 2, with greater accuracy than both anatomical and blood-based measurements. These studies provide key insights into global T cell activation following local CpG treatment and indicate that 64Cu-DOTA-AbOX40 is a promising candidate for monitoring clinical cancer immunotherapy strategies.

    View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI98509

    View details for PubMedID 29596062

  • Multimodal assessment of SERS nanoparticle biodistribution post ingestion reveals new potential for clinical translation of Raman imaging BIOMATERIALS Campbell, J. L., SoRelle, E. D., Ilovich, O., Liba, O., James, M. L., Qiu, Z., Perez, V., Chan, C. T., de la Zerda, A., Zavaleta, C. 2017; 135: 42-52


    Despite extensive research and development, new nano-based diagnostic contrast agents have faced major barriers in gaining regulatory approval due to their potential systemic toxicity and prolonged retention in vital organs. Here we use five independent biodistribution techniques to demonstrate that oral ingestion of one such agent, gold-silica Raman nanoparticles, results in complete clearance with no systemic toxicity in living mice. The oral delivery mimics topical administration to the oral cavity and gastrointestinal (GI) tract as an alternative to intravenous injection. Biodistribution and clearance profiles of orally (OR) vs. intravenously (IV) administered Raman nanoparticles were assayed over the course of 48 h. Mice given either an IV or oral dose of Raman nanoparticles radiolabeled with approximately 100 μCi (3.7MBq) of (64)Cu were imaged with dynamic microPET immediately post nanoparticle administration. Static microPET images were also acquired at 2 h, 5 h, 24 h and 48 h. Mice were sacrificed post imaging and various analyses were performed on the excised organs to determine nanoparticle localization. The results from microPET imaging, gamma counting, Raman imaging, ICP-MS, and hyperspectral imaging of tissue sections all correlated to reveal no evidence of systemic distribution of Raman nanoparticles after oral administration and complete clearance from the GI tract within 24 h. Paired with the unique signals and multiplexing potential of Raman nanoparticles, this approach holds great promise for realizing targeted imaging of tumors and dysplastic tissues within the oral cavity and GI-tract. Moreover, these results suggest a viable path for the first translation of high-sensitivity Raman contrast imaging into clinical practice.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2017.04.045

    View details for Web of Science ID 000401718000005

    View details for PubMedID 28486147

  • Human umbilical cord plasma proteins revitalize hippocampal function in aged mice NATURE Castellano, J. M., Mosher, K. I., Abbey, R. J., McBride, A. A., James, M. L., Berdnik, D., Shen, J. C., Zou, B., Xie, X. S., Tingle, M., Hinkson, I. V., Angst, M. S., Wyss-Coray, T. 2017; 544 (7651): 488-?


    Ageing drives changes in neuronal and cognitive function, the decline of which is a major feature of many neurological disorders. The hippocampus, a brain region subserving roles of spatial and episodic memory and learning, is sensitive to the detrimental effects of ageing at morphological and molecular levels. With advancing age, synapses in various hippocampal subfields exhibit impaired long-term potentiation, an electrophysiological correlate of learning and memory. At the molecular level, immediate early genes are among the synaptic plasticity genes that are both induced by long-term potentiation and downregulated in the aged brain. In addition to revitalizing other aged tissues, exposure to factors in young blood counteracts age-related changes in these central nervous system parameters, although the identities of specific cognition-promoting factors or whether such activity exists in human plasma remains unknown. We hypothesized that plasma of an early developmental stage, namely umbilical cord plasma, provides a reservoir of such plasticity-promoting proteins. Here we show that human cord plasma treatment revitalizes the hippocampus and improves cognitive function in aged mice. Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases 2 (TIMP2), a blood-borne factor enriched in human cord plasma, young mouse plasma, and young mouse hippocampi, appears in the brain after systemic administration and increases synaptic plasticity and hippocampal-dependent cognition in aged mice. Depletion experiments in aged mice revealed TIMP2 to be necessary for the cognitive benefits conferred by cord plasma. We find that systemic pools of TIMP2 are necessary for spatial memory in young mice, while treatment of brain slices with TIMP2 antibody prevents long-term potentiation, arguing for previously unknown roles for TIMP2 in normal hippocampal function. Our findings reveal that human cord plasma contains plasticity-enhancing proteins of high translational value for targeting ageing- or disease-associated hippocampal dysfunction.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature22067

    View details for Web of Science ID 000400051900045

    View details for PubMedID 28424512

  • F]DASA-23 for Imaging Tumor Glycolysis Through Noninvasive Measurement of Pyruvate Kinase M2. Molecular imaging and biology Beinat, C., Alam, I. S., James, M. L., Srinivasan, A., Gambhir, S. S. 2017


    A hallmark of cancer is metabolic reprogramming, which is exploited by cancer cells to ensure rapid growth and survival. Pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) catalyzes the final step in glycolysis, a key step in tumor metabolism and growth. Recently, we reported the radiosynthesis of the first positron emission tomography tracer for visualizing PKM2 in vivo-i.e., [(11)C]DASA-23. Due to the highly promising imaging results obtained with [(11)C]DASA-23 in rodent model glioblastoma, we set out to generate an F-18-labeled version of this tracer, with the end goal of clinical translation in mind. Herein, we report the radiosynthesis of 1-((2-fluoro-6-[(18)F]fluorophenyl)sulfonyl)-4-((4-methoxyphenyl)sulfonyl)piperazine ([(18)F]DASA-23) and our initial investigation of its binding properties in cancer cells.We synthesized [(18)F]DASA-23 via fluorination of 1-((2-fluoro-6-nitrophenyl)sulfonyl)-4-((4-methoxyphenyl)sulfonyl)piperazine (10) with K[(18)F]F/K2.2.2 in N,N-dimethylformamide at 110 °C for 20 min. Subsequently, we evaluated uptake of [(18)F]DASA-23 in HeLa cervical adenocarcinoma cells and in vitro stability in human and mouse serum.We successfully prepared [(18)F]DASA-23 in 2.61 ± 1.54 % radiochemical yield (n = 10, non-decay corrected at end of synthesis) with a specific activity of 2.59 ± 0.44 Ci/μmol. Preliminary cell uptake experiments revealed high uptake in HeLa cells, which was effectively blocked by pretreating cells with the structurally distinct PKM2 activator, TEPP-46. [(18)F]DASA-23 remained intact in human and mouse serum up to 120 min.Herein, we have identified a F-18-labeled PKM2 specific radiotracer which shows potential for in vivo imaging. The promising cell uptake results reported herein warrant the further evaluation of [(18)F]DASA-23 for its ability to detect and monitor cancer noninvasively.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11307-017-1068-8

    View details for PubMedID 28236227

  • [F-18]GE-180 PET Detects Reduced Microglia Activation After LM11A-31 Therapy in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease THERANOSTICS James, M. L., Belichenko, N. P., Shuhendler, A. J., Hoehne, A., Andrews, L. E., Condon, C., Nguyen, T. V., Reiser, V., Jones, P., Trigg, W., Rao, J., Gambhir, S. S., Longo, F. M. 2017; 7 (6): 1422-1436


    Microglial activation is a key pathological feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD). PET imaging of translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO) is a strategy to detect microglial activation in vivo. Here we assessed flutriciclamide ([(18)F]GE-180), a new second-generation TSPO-PET radiotracer, for its ability to monitor response to LM11A-31, a novel AD therapeutic in clinical trials. AD mice displaying pathology were treated orally with LM11A-31 for 3 months. Subsequent [(18)F]GE-180-PET imaging revealed significantly lower signal in cortex and hippocampus of LM11A-31-treated AD mice compared to those treated with vehicle, corresponding with decreased levels of TSPO immunostaining and microglial Iba1 immunostaining. In addition to detecting decreased microglial activation following LM11A-31 treatment, [(18)F]GE-180 identified activated microglia in AD mice with greater sensitivity than another second-generation TSPO radiotracer, [(18)F]PBR06. Together, these data demonstrate the promise of [(18)F]GE-180 as a potentially sensitive tool for tracking neuroinflammation in AD mice and for monitoring therapeutic modulation of microglial activation.

    View details for DOI 10.7150/thno.17666

    View details for Web of Science ID 000398783200002

    View details for PubMedID 28529627

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5436503

  • Imaging B cells in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis using (64)Cu-Rituximab-PET. Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine James, M. L., Hoehne, A., Mayer, A. T., Lechtenberg, K., Moreno, M., Gowrishankar, G., Ilovich, O., Natarajan, A., Johnson, E. M., Nguyen, J., Quach, L., Han, M., Buckwalter, M., Chandra, S., Gambhir, S. S. 2017


    B lymphocytes are a key pathological feature of multiple sclerosis (MS), and are becoming an important therapeutic target for this condition. Currently, there is no approved technique to non-invasively visualize B cells in the central nervous system (CNS) to monitor MS disease progression and response to therapies. Here we evaluated (64)Cu-Rituximab, a radiolabeled antibody specifically targeting the human B cell marker CD20, for its ability to image B cells in a mouse model of MS using positron emission tomography (PET). Methods: To model CNS infiltration by B cells, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) was induced in transgenic mice that express human CD20 on B cells. EAE mice were given subcutaneous injections of Myelin Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein fragment1-125 (MOG1-125) emulsified in complete Freund's adjuvant. Control mice received complete Freund's adjuvant alone. PET imaging of EAE and control mice was performed 1, 4, and 19h following (64)Cu-Rituximab administration. Mice were perfused and sacrificed after final PET scan, and radioactivity in dissected tissues was measured with a gamma-counter. CNS tissues from these mice were immunostained to quantify B cells or further analyzed via digital autoradiography. Results: Lumbar spinal cord PET signal was significantly higher in EAE mice compared to controls at all evaluated time points (e.g., 1h post-injection: 5.44 ± 0.37 vs. 3.33 ± 0.20 %ID/g, p<0.05). (64)Cu-Rituximab-PET signal in brain regions ranged between 1.74 ± 0.11 and 2.93 ± 0.15 %ID/g for EAE mice compared to 1.25±0.08 and 2.24±0.11%ID/g for controls, p<0.05 for all regions except striatum and thalamus at 1h post-injection. Similarly, ex vivo biodistribution results revealed notably higher (64)Cu-Rituximab uptake in brain and spinal cord of huCD20tg EAE, and B220 immunostaining verified that increased (64)Cu-Rituximab uptake in CNS tissues corresponded with elevated B cells. Conclusion: B cells can be detected in the CNS of EAE mice using (64)Cu-Rituximab-PET. Results from these studies warrant further investigation of (64)Cu-Rituximab in EAE models and consideration of use in MS patients to evaluate its potential for detecting and monitoring B cells in the progression and treatment of this disease. These results represent an initial step toward generating a platform to evaluate B cell-targeted therapeutics en route to the clinic.

    View details for DOI 10.2967/jnumed.117.189597

    View details for PubMedID 28687602

  • Visualizing Nerve Injury in a Neuropathic Pain Model with [(18)F]FTC-146 PET/MRI. Theranostics Shen, B., Behera, D., James, M. L., Reyes, S. T., Andrews, L., Cipriano, P. W., Klukinov, M., Lutz, A. B., Mavlyutov, T., Rosenberg, J., Ruoho, A. E., McCurdy, C. R., Gambhir, S. S., Yeomans, D. C., Biswal, S., Chin, F. T. 2017; 7 (11): 2794–2805


    The ability to locate nerve injury and ensuing neuroinflammation would have tremendous clinical value for improving both the diagnosis and subsequent management of patients suffering from pain, weakness, and other neurologic phenomena associated with peripheral nerve injury. Although several non-invasive techniques exist for assessing the clinical manifestations and morphological aspects of nerve injury, they often fail to provide accurate diagnoses due to limited specificity and/or sensitivity. Herein, we describe a new imaging strategy for visualizing a molecular biomarker of nerve injury/neuroinflammation, i.e., the sigma-1 receptor (S1R), in a rat model of nerve injury and neuropathic pain. The two-fold higher increase of S1Rs was shown in the injured compared to the uninjured nerve by Western blotting analyses. With our novel S1R-selective radioligand, [(18)F]FTC-146 (6-(3-[(18)F]fluoropropyl)-3-(2-(azepan-1-yl)ethyl)benzo[d]thiazol-2(3H)-one), and positron emission tomography-magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI), we could accurately locate the site of nerve injury created in the rat model. We verified the accuracy of this technique by ex vivo autoradiography and immunostaining, which demonstrated a strong correlation between accumulation of [(18)F]FTC-146 and S1R staining. Finally, pain relief could also be achieved by blocking S1Rs in the neuroma with local administration of non-radioactive [(19)F]FTC-146. In summary, [(18)F]FTC-146 S1R PET/MR imaging has the potential to impact how we diagnose, manage and treat patients with nerve injury, and thus warrants further investigation.

    View details for DOI 10.7150/thno.19378

    View details for PubMedID 28824716

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5562216

  • Further validation to support clinical translation of [(18)F]FTC-146 for imaging sigma-1 receptors. EJNMMI research Shen, B., James, M. L., Andrews, L., Lau, C., Chen, S., Palner, M., Miao, Z., Arksey, N. C., Shuhendler, A. J., Scatliffe, S., Kaneshige, K., Parsons, S. M., McCurdy, C. R., Salehi, A., Gambhir, S. S., Chin, F. T. 2015; 5 (1): 49-?


    This study aims to further evaluate the specificity and selectivity of [(18)F]FTC-146 and obtain additional data to support its clinical translation.The binding of [(19)F]FTC-146 to vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) was evaluated using [(3)H]vesamicol and PC12(A123.7) cells in an in vitro binding assay. The uptake and kinetics of [(18)F]FTC-146 in S1R-knockout mice (S1R-KO) compared to wild-type (WT) littermates was assessed using dynamic positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. Ex vivo autoradiography and histology were conducted using a separate cohort of S1R-KO/WT mice, and radiation dosimetry was calculated from WT mouse data (extrapolated for human dosing). Toxicity studies in Sprague-Dawley rats were performed with a dose equivalent to 250× the anticipated clinical dose of [(19)F]FTC-146 mass.VAChT binding assay results verified that [(19)F]FTC-146 displays negligible affinity for VAChT (K i = 450 ± 80 nM) compared to S1R. PET images demonstrated significantly higher tracer uptake in WT vs. S1R-KO brain (4.57 ± 1.07 vs. 1.34 ± 0.4 %ID/g at 20-25 min, n = 4, p < 0.05). In S1R-KO mice, it was shown that rapid brain uptake and clearance 10 min post-injection, which are consistent with previous S1R-blocking studies in mice. Three- to fourfold higher tracer uptake was observed in WT relative to S1R-KO mouse brains by ex vivo autoradiography. S1R staining coincided well with the autoradiographic data in all examined brain regions (r (2) = 0.85-0.95). Biodistribution results further demonstrated high [(18)F]FTC-146 accumulation in WT relative to KO mouse brain and provided quantitative information concerning tracer uptake in S1R-rich organs (e.g., heart, lung, pancreas) for WT mice vs. age-matched S1R-KO mice. The maximum allowed dose per scan in humans as extrapolated from mouse dosimetry was 33.19 mCi (1228.03 MBq). No significant toxicity was observed even at a 250X dose of the maximum carrier mass [(19)F]FTC-146 expected to be injected for human studies.Together, these data indicate that [(18)F]FTC-146 binds specifically to S1Rs and is a highly promising radiotracer ready for clinical translation to investigate S1R-related diseases.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s13550-015-0122-2

    View details for PubMedID 26384292

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4573970

  • PET imaging of tumor glycolysis downstream of hexokinase through noninvasive measurement of pyruvate kinase M2. Science translational medicine Witney, T. H., James, M. L., Shen, B., Chang, E., Pohling, C., Arksey, N., Hoehne, A., Shuhendler, A., Park, J., Bodapati, D., Weber, J., Gowrishankar, G., Rao, J., Chin, F. T., Gambhir, S. S. 2015; 7 (310): 310ra169-?


    Cancer cells reprogram their metabolism to meet increased biosynthetic demands, commensurate with elevated rates of replication. Pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) catalyzes the final and rate-limiting step in tumor glycolysis, controlling the balance between energy production and the synthesis of metabolic precursors. We report here the synthesis and evaluation of a positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracer, [(11)C]DASA-23, that provides a direct noninvasive measure of PKM2 expression in preclinical models of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). In vivo, orthotopic U87 and GBM39 patient-derived tumors were clearly delineated from the surrounding normal brain tissue by PET imaging, corresponding to exclusive tumor-associated PKM2 expression. In addition, systemic treatment of mice with the PKM2 activator TEPP-46 resulted in complete abrogation of the PET signal in intracranial GBM39 tumors. Together, these data provide the basis for the clinical evaluation of imaging agents that target this important gatekeeper of tumor glycolysis.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.aac6117

    View details for PubMedID 26491079

  • Microglial Malfunction: The Third Rail in the Development of Alzheimer's Disease. Trends in neurosciences Mhatre, S. D., Tsai, C. A., Rubin, A. J., James, M. L., Andreasson, K. I. 2015; 38 (10): 621-636


    Studies of Alzheimer's disease (AD) have predominantly focused on two major pathologies: amyloid-β (Aβ) and hyperphosphorylated tau. These misfolded proteins can accumulate asymptomatically in distinct regions over decades. However, significant Aβ accumulation can be seen in individuals who do not develop dementia, and tau pathology limited to the transentorhinal cortex, which can appear early in adulthood, is usually clinically silent. Thus, an interaction between these pathologies appears to be necessary to initiate and propel disease forward to widespread circuits. Recent multidisciplinary findings strongly suggest that the third factor required for disease progression is an aberrant microglial immune response. This response may initially be beneficial; however, a maladaptive microglial response eventually develops, fueling a feed-forward spread of tau and Aβ pathology.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tins.2015.08.006

    View details for PubMedID 26442696

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4670239

  • PET Imaging of Translocator Protein (18 kDa) in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease Using N-(2,5-Dimethoxybenzyl)-2-18F-Fluoro-N-(2-Phenoxyphenyl)Acetamide. Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine James, M. L., Belichenko, N. P., Nguyen, T. V., Andrews, L. E., Ding, Z., Liu, H., Bodapati, D., Arksey, N., Shen, B., Cheng, Z., Wyss-Coray, T., Gambhir, S. S., Longo, F. M., Chin, F. T. 2015; 56 (2): 311-316


    Herein we aimed to evaluate the utility of N-(2,5-dimethoxybenzyl)-2-(18)F-fluoro-N-(2-phenoxyphenyl)acetamide ((18)F-PBR06) for detecting alterations in translocator protein (TSPO) (18 kDa), a biomarker of microglial activation, in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease (AD).Wild-type (wt) and AD mice (i.e., APP(L/S)) underwent (18)F-PBR06 PET imaging at predetermined time points between the ages of 5-6 and 15-16 mo. MR images were fused with PET/CT data to quantify (18)F-PBR06 uptake in the hippocampus and cortex. Ex vivo autoradiography and TSPO/CD68 immunostaining were also performed using brain tissue from these mice.PET images showed significantly higher accumulation of (18)F-PBR06 in the cortex and hippocampus of 15- to 16-mo-old APP(L/S) mice than age-matched wts (cortex/muscle: 2.43 ± 0.19 vs. 1.55 ± 0.15, P < 0.005; hippocampus/muscle: 2.41 ± 0.13 vs. 1.55 ± 0.12, P < 0.005). And although no significant difference was found between wt and APP(L/S) mice aged 9-10 mo or less using PET (P = 0.64), we were able to visualize and quantify a significant difference in (18)F-PBR06 uptake in these mice using autoradiography (cortex/striatum: 1.13 ± 0.04 vs. 0.96 ± 0.01, P < 0.05; hippocampus/striatum: 1.266 ± 0.003 vs. 1.096 ± 0.017, P < 0.001). PET results for 15- to 16-mo-old mice correlated well with autoradiography and immunostaining (i.e., increased (18)F-PBR06 uptake in brain regions containing elevated CD68 and TSPO staining in APP(L/S) mice, compared with wts).(18)F-PBR06 shows great potential as a tool for visualizing TSPO/microglia in the progression and treatment of AD.

    View details for DOI 10.2967/jnumed.114.141648

    View details for PubMedID 25613536

  • Antiviral drug ganciclovir is a potent inhibitor of microglial proliferation and neuroinflammation. journal of experimental medicine Ding, Z., Mathur, V., Ho, P. P., James, M. L., Lucin, K. M., Hoehne, A., Alabsi, H., Gambhir, S. S., Steinman, L., Luo, J., Wyss-Coray, T. 2014; 211 (2): 189-198


    Aberrant microglial responses contribute to neuroinflammation in many neurodegenerative diseases, but no current therapies target pathogenic microglia. We discovered unexpectedly that the antiviral drug ganciclovir (GCV) inhibits the proliferation of microglia in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a mouse model for multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as in kainic acid-induced excitotoxicity. In EAE, GCV largely prevented infiltration of T lymphocytes into the central nervous system (CNS) and drastically reduced disease incidence and severity when delivered before the onset of disease. In contrast, GCV treatment had minimal effects on peripheral leukocyte distribution in EAE and did not inhibit generation of antibodies after immunization with ovalbumin. Additionally, a radiolabeled analogue of penciclovir, [(18)F]FHBG, which is similar in structure to GCV, was retained in areas of CNS inflammation in EAE, but not in naive control mice, consistent with the observed therapeutic effects. Our experiments suggest GCV may have beneficial effects in the CNS beyond its antiviral properties.

    View details for DOI 10.1084/jem.20120696

    View details for PubMedID 24493798

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3920559

  • PET Imaging of Stroke-Induced Neuroinflammation in Mice Using [F-18]PBR06 MOLECULAR IMAGING AND BIOLOGY Lartey, F. M., Ahn, G., Shen, B., Cord, K., Smith, T., Chua, J. Y., Rosenblum, S., Liu, H., James, M. L., Chernikova, S., Lee, S. W., Pisani, L. J., Tirouvanziam, R., Chen, J. W., Palmer, T. D., Chin, F. T., Guzman, R., Graves, E. E., Loo, B. W. 2014; 16 (1): 109-117


    The purpose of this study is to evaluate the 18 kDa translocator protein (TSPO) radioligand [(18)F]N-fluoroacetyl-N-(2,5-dimethoxybenzyl)-2-phenoxyaniline ([(18)F]PBR06) as a positron emission tomography (PET) imaging biomarker of stroke-induced neuroinflammation in a rodent model.Stroke was induced by transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in Balb/c mice. Dynamic PET/CT imaging with displacement and preblocking using PK111195 was performed 3 days later. PET data were correlated with immunohistochemistry (IHC) for the activated microglial markers TSPO and CD68 and with autoradiography.[(18)F]PBR06 accumulation peaked within the first 5 min postinjection, then decreased gradually, remaining significantly higher in infarct compared to noninfarct regions. Displacement or preblocking with PK11195 eliminated the difference in [(18)F]PBR06 uptake between infarct and noninfarct regions. Autoradiography and IHC correlated well spatially with uptake on PET.[(18)F]PBR06 PET specifically images TSPO in microglial neuroinflammation in a mouse model of stroke and shows promise for imaging and monitoring microglial activation/neuroinflammation in other disease models.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11307-013-0664-5

    View details for Web of Science ID 000329793200014

    View details for PubMedID 23836504

  • Evaluation of s-1 receptor radioligand 18F-FTC-146 in rats and squirrel monkeys using PET. Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine James, M. L., Shen, B., Nielsen, C. H., Behera, D., Buckmaster, C. L., Mesangeau, C., Zavaleta, C., Vuppala, P. K., Jamalapuram, S., Avery, B. A., Lyons, D. M., McCurdy, C. R., Biswal, S., Gambhir, S. S., Chin, F. T. 2014; 55 (1): 147-153


    The noninvasive imaging of σ-1 receptors (S1Rs) could provide insight into their role in different diseases and lead to novel diagnostic/treatment strategies. The main objective of this study was to assess the S1R radiotracer (18)F-FTC-146 in rats. Preliminary squirrel monkey imaging and human serum/liver microsome studies were performed to gain information about the potential of (18)F-FTC-146 for eventual clinical translation.The distribution and stability of (18)F-FTC-146 in rats were assessed via PET/CT, autoradiography, γ counting, and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Preliminary PET/MRI of squirrel monkey brain was conducted along with HPLC assessment of (18)F-FTC-146 stability in monkey plasma and human serum.Biodistribution studies showed that (18)F-FTC-146 accumulated in S1R-rich rat organs, including the lungs, pancreas, spleen, and brain. Pretreatment with known S1R compounds, haloperidol, or BD1047, before radioligand administration, significantly attenuated (18)F-FTC-146 accumulation in all rat brain regions by approximately 85% (P < 0.001), suggesting radiotracer specificity for S1Rs. Similarly, PET/CT and autoradiography results demonstrated accumulation of (18)F-FTC-146 in rat brain regions known to contain S1Rs and that this uptake could be blocked by BD1047 pretreatment. Ex vivo analysis of (18)F-FTC-146 in the brain showed that only intact radiotracer was present at 15, 30, and 60 min, whereas rapid metabolism of residual (18)F-FTC-146 was observed in rat plasma. Preliminary monkey PET/MRI studies demonstrated specific accumulation of (18)F-FTC-146 in the brain (mainly in cortical structures, cerebellum, and vermis) that could be attenuated by pretreatment with haloperidol. HPLC of monkey plasma suggested radioligand metabolism, whereas (18)F-FTC-146 appeared to be stable in human serum. Finally, liver microsome studies revealed that (18)F-FTC-146 has a longer half-life in human microsomes, compared with rodents.Together, these results indicate that (18)F-FTC-146 is a promising tool for visualizing S1Rs in preclinical studies and that it has potential for mapping these sites in the human brain.

    View details for DOI 10.2967/jnumed.113.120261

    View details for PubMedID 24337599

  • A F-18-Labeled Saxitoxin Derivative for in Vivo PET-MR Imaging of Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel Expression Following Nerve Injury JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Hoehne, A., Behera, D., Parsons, W. H., James, M. L., Shen, B., Borgohain, P., Bodapati, D., Prabhakar, A., Gambhir, S. S., Yeomans, D. C., Biswal, S., Chin, F. T., Du Bois, J. 2013; 135 (48): 18012-18015


    Both chronic and neuropathic pain conditions are associated with increased expression of certain voltage-gated sodium ion channel (NaV) isoforms in peripheral sensory neurons. A method for noninvasive imaging of these channels could represent a powerful tool for investigating aberrant expression of NaV and its role in pain pathogenesis. Herein, we describe the synthesis and evaluation of a positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracer targeting NaVs, the design of which is based on the potent, NaV-selective inhibitor saxitoxin. Both autoradiography analysis of sciatic nerves excised from injured rats as well as whole animal PET-MR imaging demonstrate that a systemically administered [(18)F]-labeled saxitoxin derivative concentrates at the site of nerve injury, consistent with upregulated sodium channel expression following axotomy. This type of PET agent has potential use for serial monitoring of channel expression levels at injured nerves throughout wound healing and/or following drug treatment. Such information may be correlated with pain behavioral analyses to help shed light on the complex molecular processes that underlie pain sensation.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/ja408300e

    View details for Web of Science ID 000328100000002

    View details for PubMedID 24261833

  • Colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) signaling in injured neurons facilitates protection and survival JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL MEDICINE Luo, J., Elwood, F., Britschgi, M., Villeda, S., Zhang, H., Ding, Z., Zhu, L., Alabsi, H., Getachew, R., Narasimhan, R., Wabl, R., Fainberg, N., James, M. L., Wong, G., Relton, J., Gambhir, S. S., Pollard, J. W., Wyss-Coray, T. 2013; 210 (1): 157-172


    Colony-stimulating factor 1 (CSF1) and interleukin-34 (IL-34) are functional ligands of the CSF1 receptor (CSF1R) and thus are key regulators of the monocyte/macrophage lineage. We discovered that systemic administration of human recombinant CSF1 ameliorates memory deficits in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. CSF1 and IL-34 strongly reduced excitotoxin-induced neuronal cell loss and gliosis in wild-type mice when administered systemically before or up to 6 h after injury. These effects were accompanied by maintenance of cAMP responsive element-binding protein (CREB) signaling in neurons rather than in microglia. Using lineage-tracing experiments, we discovered that a small number of neurons in the hippocampus and cortex express CSF1R under physiological conditions and that kainic acid-induced excitotoxic injury results in a profound increase in neuronal receptor expression. Selective deletion of CSF1R in forebrain neurons in mice exacerbated excitotoxin-induced death and neurodegeneration. We conclude that CSF1 and IL-34 provide powerful neuroprotective and survival signals in brain injury and neurodegeneration involving CSF1R expression on neurons.

    View details for DOI 10.1084/jem.20120412

    View details for Web of Science ID 000313560900014

    View details for PubMedID 23296467

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3549715

  • Integrin-Targeted Molecular Imaging of Experimental Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms by 18F-labeled Arg-Gly-Asp Positron-Emission Tomography CIRCULATION: CARDIOVASCULAR IMAGING Kitagawa, T., Kosuge, H., Chang, E., James, M. L., Yamamoto, T., Shen, B., Chin, F. T., Gambhir, S. S., Dalman, R. L., McConnell, M. V. 2013; 1 (6): 950-956
  • New Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Radioligand for Imaging sigma-1 Receptors in Living Subjects JOURNAL OF MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY James, M. L., Shen, B., Zavaleta, C. L., Nielsen, C. H., Mesangeau, C., Vuppala, P. K., Chan, C., Avery, B. A., Fishback, J. A., Matsumoto, R. R., Gambhir, S. S., McCurdy, C. R., Chin, F. T. 2012; 55 (19): 8272-8282


    σ-1 receptor (S1R) radioligands have the potential to detect and monitor various neurological diseases. Herein we report the synthesis, radiofluorination, and evaluation of a new S1R ligand 6-(3-fluoropropyl)-3-(2-(azepan-1-yl)ethyl)benzo[d]thiazol-2(3H)-one ([(18)F]FTC-146, [(18)F]13). [(18)F]13 was synthesized by nucleophilic fluorination, affording a product with >99% radiochemical purity (RCP) and specific activity (SA) of 2.6 ± 1.2 Ci/μmol (n = 13) at end of synthesis (EOS). Positron emission tomography (PET) and ex vivo autoradiography studies of [(18)F]13 in mice showed high uptake of the radioligand in S1R rich regions of the brain. Pretreatment with 1 mg/kg haloperidol (2), nonradioactive 13, or BD1047 (18) reduced the binding of [(18)F]13 in the brain at 60 min by 80%, 82%, and 81%, respectively, suggesting that [(18)F]13 accumulation in mouse brain represents specific binding to S1Rs. These results indicate that [(18)F]13 is a promising candidate radiotracer for further evaluation as a tool for studying S1Rs in living subjects.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jm300371c

    View details for Web of Science ID 000309643500008

    View details for PubMedID 22853801



    Molecular imaging is revolutionizing the way we study the inner workings of the human body, diagnose diseases, approach drug design, and assess therapies. The field as a whole is making possible the visualization of complex biochemical processes involved in normal physiology and disease states, in real time, in living cells, tissues, and intact subjects. In this review, we focus specifically on molecular imaging of intact living subjects. We provide a basic primer for those who are new to molecular imaging, and a resource for those involved in the field. We begin by describing classical molecular imaging techniques together with their key strengths and limitations, after which we introduce some of the latest emerging imaging modalities. We provide an overview of the main classes of molecular imaging agents (i.e., small molecules, peptides, aptamers, engineered proteins, and nanoparticles) and cite examples of how molecular imaging is being applied in oncology, neuroscience, cardiology, gene therapy, cell tracking, and theranostics (therapy combined with diagnostics). A step-by-step guide to answering biological and/or clinical questions using the tools of molecular imaging is also provided. We conclude by discussing the grand challenges of the field, its future directions, and enormous potential for further impacting how we approach research and medicine.

    View details for DOI 10.1152/physrev.00049.2010

    View details for Web of Science ID 000306562500009

    View details for PubMedID 22535898

  • Preclinical Evaluation of Raman Nanoparticle Biodistribution for their Potential Use in Clinical Endoscopy Imaging SMALL Zavaleta, C. L., Hartman, K. B., Miao, Z., James, M. L., Kempen, P., Thakor, A. S., Nielsen, C. H., Sinclair, R., Cheng, Z., Gambhir, S. S. 2011; 7 (15): 2232-2240


    Raman imaging offers unsurpassed sensitivity and multiplexing capabilities. However, its limited depth of light penetration makes direct clinical translation challenging. Therefore, a more suitable way to harness its attributes in a clinical setting would be to couple Raman spectroscopy with endoscopy. The use of an accessory Raman endoscope in conjunction with topically administered tumor-targeting Raman nanoparticles during a routine colonoscopy could offer a new way to sensitively detect dysplastic lesions while circumventing Raman's limited depth of penetration and avoiding systemic toxicity. In this study, the natural biodistribution of gold surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) nanoparticles is evaluated by radiolabeling them with (64) Cu and imaging their localization over time using micropositron emission tomography (PET). Mice are injected either intravenously (IV) or intrarectally (IR) with approximately 100 microcuries (μCi) (3.7 megabecquerel (MBq)) of (64) Cu-SERS nanoparticles and imaged with microPET at various time points post injection. Quantitative biodistribution data are obtained as % injected dose per gram (%ID g(-1)) from each organ, and the results correlate well with the corresponding microPET images, revealing that IV-injected mice have significantly higher uptake (p < 0.05) in the liver (5 h = 8.96% ID g(-1); 24 h = 8.27% ID g(-1)) than IR-injected mice (5 h = 0.09% ID g(-1); 24 h = 0.08% ID g(-1)). IR-injected mice show localized uptake in the large intestine (5 h = 10.37% ID g(-1); 24 h = 0.42% ID g(-1)) with minimal uptake in other organs. Raman imaging of excised tissues correlate well with biodistribution data. These results suggest that the topical application of SERS nanoparticles in the mouse colon appears to minimize their systemic distribution, thus avoiding potential toxicity and supporting the clinical translation of Raman spectroscopy as an endoscopic imaging tool.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smll.201002317

    View details for Web of Science ID 000294361200015

    View details for PubMedID 21608124

  • [F-18]FTC-146: A novel and highly selective PET ligand for visualizing sigma-1 receptors in living subjects 8th International Symposium on Functional Neuroreceptor Mapping of the Living Brain James, M. L., Shen, B., Zavaleta, C., Berganos, R. A., Mesangeau, C., Shaikh, J., Gambhir, S. S., Matsumoto, R. R., McCurdy, C. R., Chin, F. T. ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE. 2010: S123–S124
  • [C-11]-DPA-713 and [F-18]-DPA-714 as New PET Tracers for TSPO: A Comparison with [C-11]-(R)-PK11195 in a Rat Model of Herpes Encephalitis MOLECULAR IMAGING AND BIOLOGY Doorduin, J., Klein, H. C., Dierckx, R. A., James, M., Kassiou, M., De Vries, E. F. 2009; 11 (6): 386-398


    Activation of microglia cells plays an important role in neurological diseases. Positron emission tomography (PET) with [(11)C]-(R)-PK11195 has already been used to visualize activated microglia cells in neurological diseases. However, [(11)C]-(R)-PK11195 may not possess the required sensitivity to visualize mild neuroinflammation. In this study, we evaluated the PET tracers [(11)C]-DPA-713 and [(18)F]-DPA-714 as agents for imaging of activated microglia in a rat model of herpes encephalitis.Rats were intranasally inoculated with HSV-1. On day 6 or 7 after inoculation, small animal PET studies were performed to compare [(11)C]-(R)-PK11195, [(11)C]-DPA-713, and [(18)F]-DPA-714.Uptake of [(11)C]-DPA-713 in infected brain areas was comparable to that of [(11)C]-(R)-PK11195, but [(11)C]-DPA-713 showed lower non-specific binding. Non-specific uptake of [(18)F]-DPA-714 was lower than that of [(11)C]-(R)-PK11195. In the infected brain, total [(18)F]-DPA-714 uptake was lower than that of [(11)C]-(R)-PK11195, with comparable specific uptake.[(11)C]-DPA-713 may be more suitable for visualizing mild inflammation than [(11)C]-(R)-PK11195. In addition, the fact that [(18)F]-DPA-714 is an agonist PET tracer opens new possibilities to evaluate different aspects of neuroinflammation. Therefore, both tracers warrant further investigation in animal models and in a clinical setting.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11307-009-0211-6

    View details for Web of Science ID 000270882900002

    View details for PubMedID 19330384

  • Initial Evaluation of C-11-DPA-713, a Novel TSPO PET Ligand, in Humans JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MEDICINE Endres, C. J., Pomper, M. G., James, M., Uzuner, O., Hammoud, D. A., Watkins, C. C., Reynolds, A., Hilton, J., Dannals, R. F., Kassiou, M. 2009; 50 (8): 1276-1282


    Translocator protein (TSPO) is upregulated in activated microglia and thus can serve as a marker of neuroinflammation. Recently, a novel radioligand, (11)C-N,N-diethyl-2-[2-(4-methoxyphenyl)-5,7-dimethyl-pyrazolo[1,5-a]pyrimidin-3-yl]-acetamide ((11)C-DPA-713), has been described that binds to TSPO with high affinity. Here, we report the first examination of (11)C-DPA-713 in human subjects using PET.Five healthy controls were studied with PET for 90 min after a bolus injection of high-specific-activity (11)C-DPA-713. For comparison, 2 additional healthy controls were studied with (11)C-R-PK11195. Arterial blood sampling and metabolite analysis were performed to allow the accurate quantification of tracer kinetics. Tracer uptake was evaluated for several brain regions. Tissue time-activity curves were fitted using 1- and 2-tissue-compartment models, with goodness-of-fit tests showing a preference for the 2-tissue model.In the healthy brain, the average plasma-to-tissue clearance and the total volume of distribution were an order of magnitude larger than measured for (11)C-R-PK11195. Accordingly, dose-normalized time-activity curves showed that (11)C-DPA-713 gives a larger brain signal.Studies in patient populations will help determine whether (11)C-DPA-713 provides better sensitivity for evaluating increased TSPO expression. This initial study in humans shows that (11)C-DPA-713 is a promising ligand for evaluating TSPO binding with PET.

    View details for DOI 10.2967/jnumed.109.062265

    View details for Web of Science ID 000272548100018

    View details for PubMedID 19617321

  • Comparative Evaluation of the Translocator Protein Radioligands C-11-DPA-713, F-18-DPA-714, and C-11-PK11195 in a Rat Model of Acute Neuroinflammation JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MEDICINE Chauveau, F., Van Camp, N., Dolle, F., Kuhnast, B., Hinnen, F., Damont, A., Boutin, H., James, M., Kassiou, M., Tavitian, B. 2009; 50 (3): 468-476


    Overexpression of the translocator protein, TSPO (18 kDa), formerly known as the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor, is a hallmark of activation of cells of monocytic lineage (microglia and macrophages) during neuroinflammation. Radiolabeling of TSPO ligands enables the detection of neuroinflammatory lesions by PET. Two new radioligands, (11)C-labeled N,N-diethyl-2-[2-(4-methoxyphenyl)-5,7-dimethylpyrazolo[1,5-alpha]pyrimidin-3-yl]acetamide (DPA-713) and (18)F-labeled N,N-diethyl-2-(2-(4-(2-fluoroethoxy)phenyl)-5,7-dimethylpyrazolo[1,5-alpha]pyrimidin-3-yl)acetamide (DPA-714), both belonging to the pyrazolopyrimidine class, were compared in vivo and in vitro using a rodent model of neuroinflammation.(11)C-DPA-713 and (18)F-DPA-714, as well as the classic radioligand (11)C-labeled (R)-N-methyl-N-(1-methylpropyl)-1-(2-chlorophenyl)isoquinoline-3-carboxamide (PK11195), were used in the same rat model, in which intrastriatal injection of (R,S)-alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolopropionique gave rise to a strong neuroinflammatory response. Comparative endpoints included in vitro autoradiography and in vivo imaging on a dedicated small-animal PET scanner under identical conditions.(11)C-DPA-713 and (18)F-DPA-714 could specifically localize the neuroinflammatory site with a similar signal-to-noise ratio in vitro. In vivo, (18)F-DPA-714 performed better than (11)C-DPA-713 and (11)C-PK11195, with the highest ratio of ipsilateral to contralateral uptake and the highest binding potential.(18)F-DPA-714 appears to be an attractive alternative to (11)C-PK11195 because of its increased bioavailability in brain tissue and its reduced nonspecific binding. Moreover, its labeling with (18)F, the preferred PET isotope for radiopharmaceutical chemistry, favors its dissemination and wide clinical use. (18)F-DPA-714 will be further evaluated in longitudinal studies of neuroinflammatory conditions such as are encountered in stroke or neurodegenerative diseases.

    View details for DOI 10.2967/jnumed.108.058669

    View details for Web of Science ID 000264084500027

    View details for PubMedID 19223401

  • Radiosynthesis of [F-18]DPA-714, a selective radioligand for imaging the translocator protein (18 kDa) with PET JOURNAL OF LABELLED COMPOUNDS & RADIOPHARMACEUTICALS Damont, A., Hinnen, F., Kuhnast, B., Schollhorn-Peyronneau, M., James, M., Luus, C., Tavitian, B., Kassiou, M., Dolle, F. 2008; 51 (7-8): 286-292

    View details for DOI 10.1002/jlcr.1523

    View details for Web of Science ID 000258903500002

  • DPA-714, a new translocator protein-specific ligand: Synthesis, radiofluorination, and pharmacologic characterization JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MEDICINE James, M. L., Fulton, R. R., Vercoullie, J., Henderson, D. J., Garreau, L., Chalon, S., Dolle, F., Selleri, S., Guilloteau, D., Kassiou, M. 2008; 49 (5): 814-822


    The translocator protein (18 kDa) (TSPO), formerly known as the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor, is dramatically upregulated under pathologic conditions. Activated microglia are the main cell type expressing the TSPO at sites of central nervous system pathology. Radioligands for the TSPO can therefore measure active disease in the brain. This article details the synthesis, radiofluorination, and pharmacologic evaluation of a new TSPO-specific pyrazolopyrimidine, DPA-714.The affinity of DPA-714 for the TSPO was measured in rat kidney membranes with (3)H-PK11195. The in vitro functional activity of DPA-714 was measured in a steroidogenic assay in which the ability of DPA-714 to increase pregnenolone synthesis was measured with rat C6 glioma cells. The radiofluorination of DPA-714 was achieved by nucleophilic (18)F-fluoride displacement of the tosylate precursor. (18)F-DPA-714 was assessed in rats harboring unilateral quinolinic acid (QA) lesions. In addition, pretreatment experiments were performed with PK11195 (5 mg/kg), DPA-714 (1 mg/kg), and DPA-713 (1 mg/kg). The in vivo binding and biodistribution of (18)F-DPA-714 were determined in a baboon with PET. Experiments involving presaturation with PK11195 (1.5 mg/kg) and displacement with DPA-714 (1 mg/kg) were conducted to evaluate the specificity of radioligand binding.In vitro binding studies revealed that DPA-714 displayed a high affinity for the TSPO (dissociation constant, 7.0 nM). DPA-714 stimulated pregnenolone synthesis at levels 80% above the baseline. (18)F-DPA-714 was prepared at a 16% radiochemical yield and a specific activity of 270 GBq/mumol. In rats harboring unilateral QA lesions, an 8-fold-higher level of uptake of (18)F-DPA-714 was observed in the ipsilateral striatum than in the contralateral striatum. Uptake in the ipsilateral striatum was shown to be selective because it was inhibited to the level in the contralateral striatum in the presence of PK11195, nonlabeled DPA-714, or DPA-713. PET studies demonstrated rapid penetration and good retention of (18)F-DPA-714 in the baboon brain. Pretreatment with PK11195 effectively inhibited the uptake of (18)F-DPA-714 in the whole brain, indicating its selective binding to the TSPO. The injection of nonlabeled DPA-714 20 min after the injection of (18)F-DPA-714 resulted in radioligand washout, demonstrating the reversibility of (18)F-DPA-714 binding.(18)F-DPA-714 is a specific radioligand for the TSPO, displaying promising in vivo properties and thus warranting further investigation.

    View details for DOI 10.2967/jnumed.107.046151

    View details for Web of Science ID 000255809100033

    View details for PubMedID 18413395

  • C-11-DPA-713: A novel peripheral benzodiazepine receptor PET ligand for in vivo imaging of neuroinflammation JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MEDICINE Boutin, H., Chauveau, F., Thominiaux, C., Gregoire, M., James, M. L., Trebossen, R., Hantraye, P., Dolle, F., Tavitian, B., Kassiou, M. 2007; 48 (4): 573-581


    The induction of neuroinflammatory processes, characterized by upregulation of the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR) expressed by microglial cells, is well correlated with neurodegenerative diseases and with acute neuronal loss. The continually increasing incidence of neurodegenerative diseases in developed countries has become a major health problem, for which the development of diagnostic and follow-up tools is required. Here we investigated a new PBR ligand suitable for PET to monitor neuroinflammatory processes as an indirect hallmark of neurodegeneration.We compared PK11195, the reference compound for PBR binding sites, with the new ligand DPA-713 (N,N-diethyl-2-[2-(4-methoxyphenyl)-5,7-dimethylpyrazolo[1,5-a]pyrimidin-3-yl]acetamide), using a small-animal dedicated PET camera in a model of neuroinflammation in rats. Seven days after intrastriatal injection of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA), a PET scan was performed using (11)C-PK11195 or (11)C-DPA-713. Immunohistochemistry for neuronal (NeuN), astrocyte (glial fibrillary acidic protein), and microglial (CD11) specific markers as well as (3)H-PK11195 autoradiographic studies were then correlated with the imaging data.Seven days after a unilateral injection of AMPA in the striatum, (11)C-DPA-713 exhibits a better contrast between healthy and damaged brain parenchyma than (11)C-PK11195 (2.5-fold +/- 0.14 increase vs. 1.6-fold +/- 0.05 increase, respectively). (11)C-DPA-713 and (11)C-PK11195 exhibit similar brain uptake in the ipsilateral side, whereas, in the contralateral side, (11)C-DPA-713 uptake was significantly lower than (11)C-PK11195. Modeling of the data using the simplified reference tissue model shows that the binding potential was significantly higher for (11)C-DPA-713 than for (11)C-PK11195.(11)C-DPA-713 displays a higher signal-to-noise ratio than (11)C-PK11195 because of a lower level of unspecific binding that is likely related to the lower lipophilicity of (11)C-DPA-713. Although further studies in humans are required, (11)C-DPA-713 represents a suitable alternative to (11)C-PK11195 for PET of PBR as a tracer of neuroinflammatory processes induced by neuronal stress.

    View details for DOI 10.2967/jnumed.106.036764

    View details for Web of Science ID 000245647000020

    View details for PubMedID 17401094

  • Development of Ligands for the Peripheral Benzodiazepine Receptor CURRENT MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY James, M. L., Selleri, S., Kassiou, M. 2006; 13 (17): 1991-2001


    The peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR) initially characterised as a high affinity binding site for diazepam, is densely distributed in most peripheral organs whilst only moderately expressed in the healthy brain. The predominant cell type expressing the PBR at regions of central nervous system (CNS) pathology are activated microglial cells. Under neuroinflammatory conditions there is an over-expression of PBR binding sites indicating that measurements of PBR density can act as a useful index of brain disease activity. The PBR is now considered a significant therapeutic and diagnostic target which has provided the impetus for PBR ligand development. There are several classes of PBR ligands available including benzodiazepines (Ro5-4864), isoquinoline carboxamides (PK 11195), indoleacetamides (FGIN-1-27), phenoxyphenyl-acetamides (DAA1106) and pyrazolopyrimidines (DPA-713). Subsequent conformationally restrained isoquinoline and indoleacetamide analogues have been synthesised in an attempt to yield PBR ligands with superior affinity and brain kinetics. Even though the PBR has been linked to a number of biochemical processes, including cell proliferation, apoptosis, steroidogenesis, porphyrin transport and immunomodulation, its exact physiological role is yet to be deciphered. Selective PBR ligands with favourable in vivo binding properties and kinetics is required to gain a more complete understanding on the normal functioning of the PBR and the chemical pathways underlying several pathological conditions. Novel PBR ligands with unique binding properties and functional activity may also generate information on the localisation of the PBR and the possibility of PBR subtypes. This review highlights the main classes of PBR ligands to date. In addition the biological activity and therapeutic potential of certain PBR ligands is discussed.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000207523900003

    View details for PubMedID 16842193

  • Improved synthesis of the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor ligand [C-11]DPA-713 using [C-11]methyl triflate APPLIED RADIATION AND ISOTOPES Thominiaux, C., Dolle, F., James, M. L., Bramoulle, Y., Boutin, H., Besret, L., Gregoire, M. C., Valette, H., Bottlaender, M., Tavitian, B., Hantraye, P., Selleri, S., Kassiou, M. 2006; 64 (5): 570-573


    Recently, the pyrazolopyrimidine, [11C] N,N-Diethyl-2-[2-(4-methoxyphenyl)-5,7-dimethylpyrazolo[1,5-a]pyrimidin-3-yl]acetamide (DPA-713) has been reported as a new promising marker for the study of peripheral benzodiazepine receptors with positron emission tomography. In the present study, DPA-713 has been labelled from the corresponding nor-analogue using [11C]methyl triflate (CH3OTf). Conditions for HPLC were also modified to include physiological saline (aq. 0.9% NaCl)/ethanol:60/40 as mobile phase making it suitable for injection. The total time of radiosynthesis, including HPLC purification, was 18-20 min. This reported synthesis of [11C]DPA-713, using [11C]CH3OTf, resulted in an improved radiochemical yield (30-38%) compared to [11C]methyl iodide (CH3I) (9) with a simpler purification method. This ultimately enhances the potential of [11C]DPA-713 for further pharmacological and clinical evaluation. These improvements make this radioligand more suitable for automated synthesis which is of benefit where multi-dose preparations and repeated syntheses of radioligand are required.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.apradiso.2005.12.003

    View details for Web of Science ID 000237041800009

    View details for PubMedID 16427784

  • Synthesis and in vivo evaluation of a novel peripheral benzodiazepine receptor PET radioligand BIOORGANIC & MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY James, M. L., Fulton, R. R., Henderson, D. J., Eberl, S., Melkle, S. R., Thomson, S., Allan, R. D., Dolle, F., Fulham, M. J., Kassiou, M. 2005; 13 (22): 6188-6194


    The novel pyrazolopyrimidine ligand, N,N-diethyl-2-[2-(4-methoxyphenyl)-5,7-dimethyl-pyrazolo[1,5-a]pyrimidin-3-yl]-acetamide 1 (DPA-713), has been reported as a potent ligand for the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR) displaying an affinity of K(i)=4.7 nM. In this study, 1 was successfully synthesised and demethylated to form the phenolic derivative 6 as precursor for labelling with carbon-11 (t(1/2) = 20.4 min). [11C]1 was prepared by O-alkylation of 6 with [11C]methyl iodide. The radiochemical yield of [(11)C]1 was 9% (non-decay corrected) with a specific activity of 36 GBq/micromol at the end of synthesis. The average time of synthesis including formulation was 13.2 min with a radiochemical purity >98%. In vivo assessment of [11C]1 was performed in a healthy Papio hamadryas baboon using positron emission tomography (PET). Following iv administration of [11C]1, significant accumulation was observed in the baboon brain and peripheral organs. In the brain, the radioactivity peaked at 20 min and remained constant for the duration of the imaging experiment. Pre-treatment with the PBR-specific ligand, PK 11195 (5 mg/kg), effectively reduced the binding of [11C]1 at 60 min by 70% in the whole brain, whereas pre-treatment with the central benzodiazepine receptor ligand, flumazenil (1mg/kg), had no inhibitory effect on [11C]1 uptake. These results indicate that accumulation of [11C]1 in the baboon represents selective binding to the PBR. These exceptional in vivo binding properties suggest that [11C]1 may be useful for imaging the PBR in disease states. Furthermore, [11C]1 represents the first ligand of its pharmacological class to be labelled for PET studies and therefore has the potential to generate new information on the pathological role of the PBR in vivo.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bmc.2005.06.030

    View details for Web of Science ID 000232733000012

    View details for PubMedID 16039131