Translational Neuroimaging: Positron Emission Tomography Studies of Monoamine Oxidase
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Positron emission tomography (PET) using radiotracers with high molecular specificity is an important scientific tool in studies of monoamine oxidase (MAO), an important enzyme in the regulation of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin as well as the dietary amine, tyramine. MAO occurs in two different subtypes, MAO A and MAO B, which have different substrate and inhibitor specificity and which are different gene products. The highly variable subtype distribution with different species makes human studies of special value. MAO A and B can be imaged in the human brain and certain peripheral organs using PET and carbon-11 (half-life 20.4 minutes) labeled mechanism-based irreversible inhibitors, clorgyline and l-deprenyl, respectively. In this article we introduce MAO and describe the development of these radiotracers and their translation from preclinical studies to the investigation of variables affecting MAO in the human brain and peripheral organs.