11C-Para-aminobenzoic acid PET imaging of S. aureus and MRSA infection in preclinical models and humans

Alvaro A. Ordonez, Matthew F.L. Parker, Robert J. Miller, Donika Plyku, Camilo A. Ruiz-Bedoya, Elizabeth W. Tucker, Justin M. Luu, Dustin A. Dikeman, Wojciech G. Lesniak, Daniel P. Holt, Robert F. Dannals, Lloyd S. Miller, Steven P. Rowe, David M. Wilson, Sanjay K. Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tools for noninvasive detection of bacterial pathogens are needed but are not currently available for clinical use. We have previously shown that para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) rapidly accumulates in a wide range of pathogenic bacteria, motivating the development of related PET radiotracers. In this study, 11C-PABA PET imaging was used to accurately detect and monitor infections due to pyogenic bacteria in multiple clinically relevant animal models. 11C-PABA PET imaging selectively detected infections in muscle, intervertebral discs, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus-infected orthopedic implants. In what we believe to be first-in-human studies in healthy participants, 11C-PABA was safe, well-tolerated, and had a favorable biodistribution, with low background activity in the lungs, muscles, and brain. 11C-PABA has the potential for clinical translation to detect and localize a broad range of bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere154117
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 11 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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