Objective: The activation of microglia in various brain pathologies is accompanied by an increase in the expression of peripheral benzodiazepine receptor/18 kDa translocator protein (PBR/TSPO). However, whether activated microglia have a neuroprotective or neurotoxic effect on neurons in the brain is yet to be determined. In this study, we investigated the ability of the novel PBR/TSPO ligand FEPPA to detect activated microglia in an animal model of primary neurotoxic microglia activation. Methods: [18F] FEPPA positron emission tomography (PET) imaging was performed before and after intraperitoneal administration of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (LPS group) or saline (control group) in a unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesion rat model of Parkinson’s disease. Images were compared between these groups. After imaging, the brains were collected, and the activated microglia at the disease sites were analyzed by the expression of inflammatory cytokines and immunohistochemistry staining. These results were then comparatively examined with those obtained by PET imaging. Results: In the unilateral 6-OHDA lesion rat model, the PBR/TSPO PET signal was significantly increased in the LPS group compared with the saline group. As the increased signal was observed 4 h after the injection, we considered it an acute response to brain injury. In the post-imaging pathological examination, activated microglia were found to be abundant at the site where strong signals were detected, and the expression of the inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-1β was increased. Intraperitoneal LPS administration further increased the expression of inflammatory cytokines, and the PBR/TSPO PET signal increased concurrently. The increase in inflammatory cytokine expression correlated with enhanced signal intensity. Conclusions: PET signal enhancement by PBR/TSPO at the site of brain injury correlated with the activation of microglia and production of inflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, because FEPPA enables the detection of neurotoxic microglia on PET images, we successfully constructed a novel PET detection system that can monitor neurodegenerative diseases.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging