Tactics for preclinical validation of receptor-binding radiotracers

Susan Z. Lever, Kuo Hsien Fan, John R. Lever

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Introduction Aspects of radiopharmaceutical development are illustrated through preclinical studies of [125I]-(E)-1-(2-(2,3-dihydrobenzofuran-5-yl)ethyl)-4-(iodoallyl)piperazine ([125I]-E-IA-BF-PE-PIPZE), a radioligand for sigma-1 (σ1) receptors, coupled with examples from the recent literature. Findings are compared to those previously observed for [125I]-(E)-1-(2-(2,3-dimethoxy-5-yl)ethyl)-4-(iodoallyl)piperazine ([125I]-E-IA-DM-PE-PIPZE). Methods Syntheses of E-IA-BF-PE-PIPZE and [125I]-E-IA-BF-PE-PIPZE were accomplished by standard methods. In vitro receptor binding studies and autoradiography were performed, and binding potential was predicted. Measurements of lipophilicity and protein binding were obtained. In vivo studies were conducted in mice to evaluate radioligand stability, as well as specific binding to σ1 sites in brain, brain regions and peripheral organs in the presence and absence of potential blockers. Results E-IA-BF-PE-PIPZE exhibited high affinity and selectivity for σ1 receptors (Ki = 0.43 ± 0.03 nM, σ21 = 173). [125I]-E-IA-BF-PE-PIPZE was prepared in good yield and purity, with high specific activity. Radioligand binding provided dissociation (koff) and association (kon) rate constants, along with a measured Kd of 0.24 ± 0.01 nM and Bmax of 472 ± 13 fmol/mg protein. The radioligand proved suitable for quantitative autoradiography in vitro using brain sections. Moderate lipophilicity, Log D7.4 2.69 ± 0.28, was determined, and protein binding was 71 ± 0.3%. In vivo, high initial whole brain uptake, >6% injected dose/g, cleared slowly over 24 h. Specific binding represented 75% to 93% of total binding from 15 min to 24 h. Findings were confirmed and extended by regional brain biodistribution. Radiometabolites were not observed in brain (1%). Conclusions Substitution of dihydrobenzofuranylethyl for dimethoxyphenethyl increased radioligand affinity for σ1 receptors by 16-fold. While high specific binding to σ1 receptors was observed for both radioligands in vivo, [125I]-E-IA-BF-PE-PIPZE displayed much slower clearance kinetics than [125I]-E-IA-DM-PE-PIPZE. Thus, minor structural modifications of σ1 receptor radioligands lead to major differences in binding properties in vitro and in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-30
Number of pages27
JournalNuclear Medicine and Biology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Imaging
  • Radiopharmaceutical
  • Radiopharmacology
  • Radiotracer
  • Sigma receptor
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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