The kinetics and regional distribution of [11C]carfentanil, a μ-selective opiate receptor agonist, and [11C]diprenorphine, a nonselective opiate receptor antagonist, were compared using paired positron emission tomography studies in two normal volunteers. Kinetics of total radioactivity (counts/mCi/pixel) was greater for [11C]diprenorphine than [11C]carfentanil in all regions. [11C]Carfentanil binding (expressed as the total/ nonspecific ratio) reached near equilibrium at ∼40 min, whereas [11C]diprenorphine showed a linear increase until ∼60 min. Kinetics of specific binding demonstrated significant dissociation of [11C]carfentanil from opiate receptors, whereas little dissociation of [11C]diprenorphine was observed during the 90-min scan session. Regional distributions of [11C]carfentanil and [11C]diprenorphine were qualitatively and quantitatively different: Relative to the thalamus (a region with known predominance of μ-receptors), [11C]diprenorphine displayed greater binding in the striatum and cingulate and frontal cortex compared to [11C]carfentanil, consistent with labeling of additional, non-μ. sites by [11C]diprenorphine. We conclude from these studies that [11C]diprenorphine labels other opiate receptor subtypes in addition to the μ sites selectively labeled by [11C]carfentanil. The nonselective nature of diprenorphine potentially limits its usefulness in defining abnormalities of specific opiate receptor sub-types in various diseases. Development of selective tracers for the δ- and κ-opiate receptor sites, or alternatively use of unlabeled inhibitors to differentially displace μ, δ, and κ subtypes, will help offset these limitations.
- Opiate receptors
- Positron emission tomography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine