Imaging the GABA-benzodiazepine receptor subtype containing the alpha5-subunit in vivo with [11C]Ro15 4513 positron emission tomography

Anne Lingford-Hughes, Susan P Hume, Adrian Feeney, Ella Hirani, Safiye Osman, Vincent J Cunningham, Victor W Pike, David J Brooks, David J Nutt

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99 Citations (Scopus)


There is evidence of marked variation in the brain distribution of specific subtypes of the GABA-benzodiazepine receptor and that particular subtypes mediate different functions. The alpha5-containing subtype is highly expressed in the hippocampus, and selective alpha5 inverse agonists (which decrease tonic GABA inhibition) are being developed as potential memory-enhancing agents. Evidence for such receptor localization and specialization in humans in vivo is lacking because the widely used probes for imaging the GABA-benzodiazepine receptors, [11C]flumazenil and [123I]iomazenil, appear to reflect binding to the alpha1 subtype, based on its distribution and affinity of flumazenil for this subtype. The authors characterized for positron emission tomography (PET) a radioligand from Ro15 4513, the binding of which has a marked limbic distribution in the rat and human brain in vivo. Competition studies in vivo in the rat revealed that radiolabeled Ro15 4513 uptake was reduced to nonspecific levels only by drugs that have affinity for the alpha5 subtype (flunitrazepam, RY80, Ro15 4513, L655,708), but not by the alpha1 selective agonist, zolpidem. Quantification of [11C]Ro15 4513 PET was performed in humans using a metabolite-corrected plasma input function. [11C]Ro15 4513 uptake was relatively greater in limbic areas compared with [11C]flumazenil, but lower in the occipital cortex and cerebellum. The authors conclude that [11C]Ro15 4513 PET labels in vivo the GABA-benzodiazepine receptor containing the alpha5 subtype in limbic structures and can be used to further explore the functional role of this subtype in humans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)878-89
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Animals
  • Azides
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Cerebellum
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Flumazenil
  • Hippocampus
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed


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