Date: 03 Aug 2010

Type 1 cannabinoid receptor mapping with [18F]MK-9470 PET in the rat brain after quinolinic acid lesion: a comparison to dopamine receptors and glucose metabolism

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Several lines of evidence imply early alterations in metabolic, dopaminergic and endocannabinoid neurotransmission in Huntington’s disease (HD). Using [18F]MK-9470 and small animal PET, we investigated cerebral changes in type 1 cannabinoid (CB1) receptor binding in the quinolinic acid (QA) rat model of HD in relation to glucose metabolism, dopamine D2 receptor availability and amphetamine-induced turning behaviour.


Twenty-one Wistar rats (11 QA and 10 shams) were investigated. Small animal PET acquisitions were conducted on a Focus 220 with approximately 18 MBq of [18F]MK-9470, [18F]FDG and [11C]raclopride. Relative glucose metabolism and parametric CB1 receptor and D2 binding images were anatomically standardized to Paxinos space and analysed voxel-wise using Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM2).


In the QA model, [18F]MK-9470 uptake, glucose metabolism and D2 receptor binding were reduced in the ipsilateral caudate-putamen by 7, 35 and 77%, respectively (all p < 2.10−5), while an increase for these markers was observed on the contralateral side (>5%, all p < 7.10−4). [18F]MK-9470 binding was also increased in the cerebellum (p = 2.10−5), where it was inversely correlated to the number of ipsiversive turnings (p = 7.10−6), suggesting that CB1 receptor upregulation in the cerebellum is related to a better functional outcome. Additionally, glucose metabolism was relatively increased in the contralateral hippocampus, thalamus and sensorimotor cortex (p = 1.10−6).


These data point to in vivo changes in endocannabinoid transmission, specifically for CB1 receptors in the QA model, with involvement of the caudate-putamen, but also distant regions of the motor circuitry, including the cerebellum. These data also indicate the occurrence of functional plasticity on metabolism, D2 and CB1 neurotransmission in the contralateral hemisphere.