Synthesis and evaluation of candidate PET radioligands for corticotropin-releasing factor type-1 receptors

Nicholas J. Lodge, Yu Wen Li, Frederick T. Chin, Douglas D. Dischino, Sami S. Zoghbi, Jeffrey A. Deskus, Ronald J. Mattson, Masao Imaizumi, Rick Pieschl, Thaddeus F. Molski, Masahiro Fujita, Heidi Dulac, Robert Zaczek, Joanne J. Bronson, John E. Macor, Robert B. Innis, Victor W. Pike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Introduction: A radioligand for measuring the density of corticotropin-releasing factor subtype-1 receptors (CRF1 receptors) in living animal and human brain with positron emission tomography (PET) would be a useful tool for neuropsychiatric investigations and the development of drugs intended to interact with this target. This study was aimed at discovery of such a radioligand from a group of CRF1 receptor ligands based on a core 3-(phenylamino)-pyrazin-2(1H)-one scaffold. Methods: CRF1 receptor ligands were selected for development as possible PET radioligands based on their binding potency at CRF1 receptors (displacement of [125I]CRF from rat cortical membranes), measured lipophilicity, autoradiographic binding profile in rat and rhesus monkey brain sections, rat biodistribution, and suitability for radiolabeling with carbon-11 or fluorine-18. Two identified candidates (BMS-721313 and BMS-732098) were labeled with fluorine-18. A third candidate (BMS-709460) was labeled with carbon-11 and all three radioligands were evaluated in PET experiments in rhesus monkey. CRF1 receptor density (Bmax) was assessed in rhesus brain cortical and cerebellum membranes with the CRF1 receptor ligand, [3H]BMS-728300. Results: The three ligands selected for development showed high binding affinity (IC50 values, 0.3-8nM) at CRF1 receptors and moderate lipophilicity (LogD, 2.8-4.4). [3H]BMS-728300 and the two 18F-labeled ligands showed region-specific binding in rat and rhesus monkey brain autoradiography, namely higher binding density in the frontal and limbic cortex, and cerebellum than in thalamus and brainstem. CRF1 receptor Bmax in rhesus brain was found to be 50-120 fmol/mg protein across cortical regions and cerebellum. PET experiments in rhesus monkey showed that the radioligands [18F]BMS-721313, [18F]BMS-732098 and [11C]BMS-709460 gave acceptably high brain radioactivity uptake but no indication of the specific binding as seen in vitro. Conclusions: Candidate CRF1 receptor PET radioligands were identified but none proved to be effective for imaging monkey brain CRF1 receptors. Higher affinity radioligands are likely required for successful PET imaging of CRF1 receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-535
Number of pages12
JournalNuclear Medicine and Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Autoradiography
  • Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Rhesus monkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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