Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Physics and Instrumentation Group

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Novel Tracer Applications

Selectivity of probes for PET imaging of dopamine D3 receptors.

Doot RK, Dubroff JG, Labban KJ, Mach RH

Neurosci Lett, vol. 691, pp. 18-25, 2019.

Dopamine D3 receptors have key roles in behavioral reward, addiction, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia, and there is interest in studying their role in these disorders using PET. However, current PET radiotracers for studying D3 receptors in humans all bind to both D2 and D3 due to similarities between the two receptors. Selective D2 and D3 radioligands would aid investigation of the differences between D2 and D3 circuitry in the central nervous system. While there are currently in vitromeasures of ligand D3/D2 selectivity, there is a need for an in vivo PET measure of D3/D2 selectivity. This review discusses current PET imaging of dopamine D2/D3 receptors and proposes methodology for quantitating in vivo selectivity of probes for PET imaging of dopamine D3 receptors


Validation of gallbladder absorbed radiation dose reduction simulation: human dosimetry of [18F]fluortriopride.

Doot RK, Dubroff JG, Scheuermann JS, Labban KJ, Cai J, Hsieh CJ, Li S, Lee H, Schubert EK, Hou C, Sheffer R, Schmitz A, Zu K, Mach RJ.

EJNMMI Phys, vol. 5, pp. 1-12, 2018.

Background: [18F]Fluortriopride (FTP) was developed as a dopamine D3-selective radiotracer, thought to be important to neurobiological reward pathways and implicated in drug addiction, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia. Preclinical radiation dosimetry studies found the gallbladder wall received the highest dose. A gallbladder dose reduction intervention was simulated using a novel reduction model for healthy adults following fatty-meal consumption. The goals of this study were to assess whole body FTP human dosimetry and determine the feasibility of reducing absorbed dose to the gallbladder wall.

Results: Effective dose without a fatty meal was 0.022 ± 0.002 mSv/MBq (± standard deviation) with highest organ dose of 0.436 ± 0.178 mSv/MBq to the gallbladder wall (n = 10). Predicted gallbladder dose reduction with fatty meal consumed was 67.4% (n = 10). Meal consumption by four repeat volunteers decreased average gallbladder dose by 71.3% (n = 4) compared to the original ten volunteers.

Conclusions: Observed effective doses were adequately low to continue studying FTP uptake in humans. Validated dosimetry simulations indicate up to a 71% reduction in gallbladder dose can be achieved by employing intrinsic physiology to contract the gallbladder via fatty meal ingestion. This methodology for predicting gallbladder absorbed dose reduction from fatty meal consumption can be applied to other radiopharmaceuticals and radiotherapies.


Cerenkov specific contrast agents for detection of pH in vivo.

Czupryna J, Kachur AV, Blankemeyer E, Popov AV, Karp JS, Delikatny EJ.

J Nucl Med, vol. 56, pp. 483-488, 2015.

We report the design, testing, and in vivo application of pH-sensitive contrast agents designed specifically for Cerenkov imaging. Radioisotopes used for PET emit photons via Cerenkov radiation. The multispectral emission of Cerenkov radiation allows for selective bandwidth quenching, in which a band of photons is quenched by absorption by a functional dye. Under acidic conditions, 18F-labeled derivatives emit the full spectrum of Cerenkov light. Under basic conditions, the dyes change color and a wavelength-dependent quenching of Cerenkov emission is observed. Methods: Mono- and di-18F-labeled derivatives of phenolsulfonphthalein (phenol red) and meta-cresolsulfonphthalein (cresol purple) were synthesized by electrophilic fluorination. Cerenkov emission was measured at different wavelengths as a function of pH in vitro. Intramolecular response was measured in fluorinated probes and intermolecular quenching by mixing phenolphthalein with 18F-FDG. Monofluorocresol purple (MFCP) was tested in mice treated with acetazolamide to cause urinary alkalinization, and Cerenkov images were compared with PET images. Results: Fluorinated pH indicators were produced with radiochemical yields of 4%–11% at greater than 90% purity. Selective Cerenkov quenching was observed intramolecularly with difluorophenol red or monofluorocresol purple and intermolecularly in phenolphthalein 18F-FDG mixtures. The probes were selectively quenched in the bandwidth closest to the indicator’s absorption maximum (λmax) at pHs above the indicator pKa (the negative logarithm of the acid dissociation constant). Addition of acid or base to the probes resulted in reversible switching from unquenched to quenched emission. In vivo, the bladders of acetazolamide-treated mice exhibited a wavelength-dependent quenching in Cerenkov emission, with the greatest reduction occurring near the λmax. Ratiometric imaging at 2 wavelengths showed significant decreases in Cerenkov emission at basic pH and allowed the estimation of absolute pH in vivo. Conclusion: We have created contrast agents that selectively quench photons emitted during Cerenkov radiation within a given bandwidth. In the presence of a functional dye, such as a pH indicator, this selective quenching allows for a functional determination of pH in vitro and in vivo. This method can be used to obtain functional information from radiolabeled probes using multimodal imaging. This approach allows for the imaging of nonfluorescent chromophores and is generalizable to any functional dye that absorbs at suitable wavelengths.


Decreased nicotinic receptor availability in smokers with slow rates of nicotine metabolism.

Dubroff JG, Doot RK, Falcone M, Schnoll RA, Tyndale R, Hou C, Schmitt A, Lerman C.

J Nucl Med, vol. 56, pp. 1724-1729, 2015.

The nicotine metabolite ratio (NMR), a stable measure of hepatic nicotine metabolism via the CYP2A6 pathway and total nicotine clearance, is a predictive biomarker of response to nicotine replacement therapy, with increased quit rates in slower metabolizers. Nicotine binds directly to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) to exert its psychoactive effects. This study examined the relationship between NMR and nAChR (α4β2* subtype) availability using PET imaging of the radiotracer 2-18F-fluoro-3-(2(S)-azetidinylmethoxy)pyridine (2-18F-FA-85380, or 2-18F-FA). Methods: Twenty-four smokers—12 slow metabolizers (NMR < 0.26) and 12 normal metabolizers (NMR ≥ 0.26)—underwent 2-18F-FA-PET brain imaging after overnight nicotine abstinence (18 h before scanning), using a validated bolus-plus-infusion protocol. Availability of nAChRs was compared between NMR groups in a priori volumes of interest, with total distribution volume (VT/fP) being the measure of nAChR availability. Cravings to smoke were assessed before and after the scans. Results: Thalamic nAChR α4β2* availability was significantly reduced in slow nicotine metabolizers (P = 0.04). Slow metabolizers exhibited greater reductions in cravings after scanning than normal metabolizers; however, craving was unrelated to nAChR availability. Conclusion: The rate of nicotine metabolism is associated with thalamic nAChR availability. Additional studies could examine whether altered nAChR availability underlies the differences in treatment response between slow and normal metabolizers of nicotine.