Opioid receptor imaging and displacement studies with [6-O-[11C]methyl]buprenorphine in baboon brain

Igor Galynker, David J. Schlyer, Stephen L. Dewey, Joanna S. Fowler, Jean Logan, S. John Galley, Robert R. MacGregor, Richard A. Ferrieri, M. J. Holland, Jonathan Brodie, Eric Simon, Alfred P. Wolf

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30 Scopus citations


Buprenorphine (BPN) is a mixed opiate agonist-antagonist used as an analgesic and in the treatment of opiate addiction. We have used [6-O-[11C]methyl]buprenorphine ([11C]BPN) to measure the regional distribution in baboon brain, the test-retest stability of repeated studies in the same animal, the displacement of the labeled drug by naloxone in vivo, and the tissue distribution in mice. The regional distribution of radioactivity in baboon brain determined with PET was striatum > thalamus > cingulate gyrus > frontal cortex > parietal cortex > occipital cortex > cerebellum. This distribution corresponded to opiate receptor density and to previously published data (37). The tracer uptake in adult female baboons showed no significant variation in serial scans in the same baboon with no intervention in the same scanning session. HPLC analysis of baboon plasma showed the presence of labeled metabolites with 92% ± 2.2% and 43% ± 14.4% of the intact tracer remaining at 5 and 30 min, respectively. Naloxone, an opiate receptor antagonist, administered 30-40 min after tracer injection at a dose of 1.0 mg/kg i.V., reduced [11C]BPN binding in thalamus, striatum, cingulate gyrus, and frontal cortex to values 0.25 to 0.60 of that with no intervention. There were minimal (<15%) effects on cerebellum. Naloxone treatment significantly reduced the slope of the Patlak plot in receptor-containing regions. These results demonstrate that [11C]BPN can be displaced by naloxone in vivo, and they affirm the feasibility of using this tracer and displacement methodology for short-term kinetics studies with PET. Mouse tissue distribution data were used to estimate the radiation dosimetry to humans. The critical organ was the small intestine, with a radiation dose estimate to humans of 117 nrad/mCi.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-331
Number of pages7
JournalNuclear Medicine and Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Baboon
  • Brain
  • Buprenorphine
  • Opioid receptor


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