Novel Thienopyrimidine-Based PET Tracers for P2Y12Receptor Imaging in the Brain

Berend van der Wildt, Bieneke Janssen, Aleksandra Pekošak, E. Johanna L. Stéen, Robert C. Schuit, Esther J. M. Kooijman, Wissam Beaino, Danielle J. Vugts, Albert D. Windhorst

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12 Citations (Scopus)


The P2Y12 receptor (P2Y12R) is uniquely expressed on microglia in the brain, and its expression level directly depends on the microglial activation state. Therefore, P2Y12R provides a promising imaging marker for distinguishing the pro- and anti-inflammatory microglial phenotypes, both of which play crucial roles in neuroinflammatory diseases. In this study, three P2Y12R antagonists were selected from the literature, radiolabeled with carbon-11 or fluorine-18, and evaluated in healthy Wistar rats. Brain imaging was performed with and without blocking of efflux transporters P-glycoprotein and breast cancer resistance protein using tariquidar. Low brain uptake in healthy rats was observed for all tracers at baseline conditions, whereas blocking of efflux transporters resulted in a strong (6-7 fold) increase in brain uptake for both of them. Binding of the most promising tracer, [18F]3, was further evaluated by in vitro autoradiography on rat brain sections, ex vivo metabolite studies, and in vivo P2Y12R blocking studies. In vitro binding of [18F]3 on rat brain sections indicated high P2Y12R targeting with approximately 70% selective and specific binding. At 60 min post-injection, over 95% of radioactivity in the brain accounted for an intact tracer. In blood plasma, still 40% intact tracer was found, and formed metabolites did not enter the brain. A moderate P2Y12R blocking effect was observed in vivo by positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with [18F]3 (p = 0.04). To conclude, three potential P2Y12R PET tracers were obtained and analyzed for P2Y12R targeting in the brain. Unfortunately, the brain uptake appeared low. Future work will focus on the design of P2Y12R inhibitors with improved physicochemical characteristics to reduce efflux transport and increase brain penetration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4465-4474
Number of pages10
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number23
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • P2Y receptor (P2Y R)
  • PET imaging
  • anti-inflammatory phenotype
  • microglia
  • neuroinflammation

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