February 24, 2022

PET imaging probe for Alzheimer’s disease

Vanderbilt researchers report on a new PET imaging probe that will be useful for exploring Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

The potent antioxidant ERGO (L-ergothioneine) has been reported to prevent cell and tissue damage by protecting against oxidative stress. Studies have demonstrated that ERGO can penetrate the brain, suggesting that it may serve a therapeutic role for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. 

Wellington Pham, PhD, and colleagues previously synthesized an ERGO-PET radioligand for in vivo studies of ERGO biodistribution and pharmacology. They now report in FEBS Letters an improved synthesis method and demonstrate the utility of the ERGO-PET radioligand in a preclinical mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. 

The probe was retained in the brain of the Alzheimer’s disease mouse model at higher concentrations than in control mice due to its high binding affinity to radicals and transition metals. The ERGO-PET probe enables observation of the dynamics of ERGO noninvasively in a live subject and lays the groundwork for future studies of Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

Other Vanderbilt contributors to the study include William Behof, PhD, Clayton Whitmore, Justin Haynes, Adam Rosenberg, PhD, Mohammed Tantawy, PhD, Todd Peterson, PhD, and Fiona Harrison, PhD. The research was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (AG061138, OD016245). 

Pham will present a webinar about this research on Thursday, March 3 at 11:30 a.m. CST for the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. To attend the webinar, register here: