Localization of serotonin 5‐HT2 receptors in living human brain by positron emission tomography using N1‐([11C]‐methyl)‐2‐BR‐LSD

Dean F. Wong, John R. Lever, Paul R. Hartig, Robert F. Dannals, Victor Villemagne, Beth J. Hoffman, Alan A. Wilson, Hayden T. Ravert, Jonathan M. Links, Ursula Scheffel, Henry N. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


N1‐([11C]‐Methyl)‐2‐Br‐LSD ([11C]‐MBL) has been developed as a positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agent for serotonin 5‐HT2 receptors. In vitro receptor binding assays with nonradioactive MBL show high‐affinity binding to serotonin 5‐HT2 receptors (Ki = 0.5 nM), a secondary interaction of 8‐fold lower affinity with dopamine D2 receptors, and low‐affinity interactions with α1‐adrenergic as well as serotonin 5‐HT1 receptors. Intravenous injection of [11C]‐MBL in a baboon led to selective labeling of cortical regions that was markedly blocked by prior administration of ketanserin, a selective 5‐HT2 receptor antagonist. Clinical trials with [11C]‐MBL have been conducted in seven normal human volunteers, and the regional distribution of radioactivity in the brain was distinctly serotonergic. Labeling was highest in frontal, temporal, and parietal cortex with lower levels observed in caudate and putamen. The tracer rapidly washed from the cerebellum and the low levels of activity in this brain region were used to define nonspecific binding. The maximum specificity was reached between 30 and 60 minutes postinjection when frontal cortex to cerebellum ratios ranged from 1.7 for a 52‐year‐old male to 2.7 for a 30‐year‐old male. In agreement with previous studies, a trend towards lower ratios (lower serotonin 5‐HT2 receptor levels) was observed in older volunteers. These studies indicate that [11C]‐MBL is a selective radioligand that can be used to monitor serotonin 5‐HT2 receptor densities in vivo in most regions of the human brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-398
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1987


  • Neuroreceptors (human)
  • Serotonin
  • Tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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