Imaging muscarinic cholinergic receptors in human brain in vivo with SPECT, [123I]4-iododexetimide, and [123I]4-idolevetimide

Hans W. Müller-Gärtner, Alan A. Wilson, Robert F. Dannals, Henry N. Wagner, James J. Frost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


A method to image muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (muscarinic receptors) noninvasively in human brain in vivo was developed using [123I]4-iododexetimide ([123I]IDex), [123I]4-iodolevetimide ([123I]ILev), and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). [123I]IDex is a high-affinity muscarinic receptor antagonist. [123I]ILev is its pharmacologically inactive enantiomer and measures nonspecific binding of [123I]IDex in vitro. Regional brain activity after tracer injection was measured in four young normal volunteers for 24 h. Regional [123I]IDex and [123I]ILev activities were correlated early after injection, but not after 1.5 h. [123I]IDex activity increased over 7-12 h in neocortex, neostriatum, and thalamus, but decreased immediately after the injection peak in cerebellum. [123I]IDex activity was highest in neostriatum, followed in rank order by neocortex, thalamus, and cerebellum. [123I]IDex activity correlated with muscarinic receptor concentrations in matching brain regions. In contrast, [123I]ILev activity decreased immedi-ately after the injection peak in all brain regions and did not correspond to muscarinic receptor concentrations. [123I]IDex activity in neocortex and neostriatum during equilibrium was six to seven times higher than [123I]ILev activity. The data demonstrate that [123I]IDex binds specifically to muscarinic receptors in vivo, whereas [123I]-ILev represents the nonspecific part of [123I]IDex binding. Subtraction of [123I]ILev from [123I]IDex images on a pixel-by-pixel basis therefore reflects specific [123I]IDex binding to muscarinic receptors. Owing to its high specific binding, [123I]IDex has the potential to measure small changes in muscarinic receptor characteristics in vivo with SPECT. The use of stereoisomerism directly te measure nonspecific binding of [123I]IDex in vivo may reduce complexity in modeling approaches to muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in human brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-570
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1992


  • Cholinergic system
  • Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor
  • Single photon emission computed tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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