Synthesis and preclinical evaluation of [11C]PAQ as a PET imaging tracer for VEGFR-2

  • Erik Samén
  • Jan-Olov Thorell
  • Li Lu
  • Tetyana Tegnebratt
  • Lars Holmgren
  • Sharon Stone-ElanderEmail author
Original Article



(R,S)-N-(4-Bromo-2-fluorophenyl)-6-methoxy-7-((1-methyl-3-piperidinyl)methoxy)-4-quinazolinamine (PAQ) is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor with high affinity for the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR-2), which plays an important role in tumour angiogenesis. The aim of this work was to develop and evaluate in mice the 11C-labelled analogue as an in vivo tracer for VEGFR-2 expression in solid tumours.


[11C]PAQ was synthesized by an N-methylation of desmethyl-PAQ using [11C]methyl iodide. The tracer’s pharmacokinetic properties and its distribution in both subcutaneous and intraperitoneal tumour models were evaluated with positron emission tomography (PET). [18F]FDG was used as a reference tracer for tumour growth. PET results were corroborated by ex vivo and in vitro phosphor imaging and immunohistochemical analyses.


In vitro assays and PET in healthy animals revealed low tracer metabolism, limited excretion over 60 min and a saturable and irreversible binding. Radiotracer uptake in subcutaneous tumour masses was low, while focal areas of high uptake (up to 8% ID/g) were observed in regions connecting the tumour to the host. Uptake was similarly high but more distributed in tumours growing within the peritoneum. The pattern of radiotracer uptake was generally different from that of the metabolic tracer [18F]FDG and correlated well with variations in VEGFR-2 expression determined ex vivo by immunohistochemical analysis.


These results suggest that [11C]PAQ has potential as a noninvasive PET tracer for in vivo imaging of VEGFR-2 expression in angiogenic “hot spots”.


Positron emission tomography Angiogenesis Tyrosine kinase inhibitor VEGFR-2 



This project was financially support by the Karolinska Institutet, Swedish Cancer Society, Cancerföreningen Stockholm, Swedish Research Council, EC FP6 (LSHC-CT-2004-505785) and EUCAAD FP7, which is gratefully acknowledged. The authors also thank Apoteket’s Central Laboratory (Apoteket, Stockholm, Sweden) for performing the LC-MS analyses, Klas Wiman for loan of the phosphor imaging device and Karolinska Institutet’s Mouse Tissue Unit for the IHC analyses. This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the EC. The EC is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.

Conflict of Interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erik Samén
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jan-Olov Thorell
    • 1
  • Li Lu
    • 2
  • Tetyana Tegnebratt
    • 3
  • Lars Holmgren
    • 3
  • Sharon Stone-Elander
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Karolinska PharmacyKarolinska University Hospital SolnaStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Clinical NeurosciencesKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Cancer Center Karolinska, Oncology-PathologyKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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