PET Imaging of Copper Trafficking in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer Disease

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Alzheimer disease (AD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive neuronal loss and cognitive decline. The lack of reliable and objective diagnostic markers for AD hampers early disease detection and treatment. Growing evidence supports the existence of a dysregulation in brain copper trafficking in AD. The aim of this study was to investigate brain copper trafficking in a transgenic mouse model of AD by PET imaging with 64Cu, to determine its potential as a diagnostic biomarker of the disorder. Methods: Brain copper trafficking was evaluated in 6- to 8-mo-old TASTPM transgenic mice and age-matched wild-type controls using the 64Cu bis(thiosemicarbazone) complex 64Cu-GTSM (glyoxalbis(N4-methyl-3-thiosemicarbazonato) copper(II)), which crosses the blood–brain barrier and releases 64Cu bioreductively into cells. Animals were intravenously injected with 64Cu-GTSM and imaged at 0–30 min and 24–25 h after injection. The images were analyzed by atlas-based quantification and texture analysis. Regional distribution of 64Cu in the brain 24 h after injection was also evaluated via ex vivo autoradiography and compared with amyloid-β plaque deposition in TASTPM mice. Results: Compared with controls, in TASTPM mice PET image analysis demonstrated significantly increased (by a factor of ∼1.3) brain concentration of 64Cu at 30 min (P < 0.01) and 24 h (P < 0.05) after injection of the tracer and faster (by a factor of ∼5) 64Cu clearance from the brain (P < 0.01). Atlas-based quantification and texture analysis revealed significant differences in regional brain uptake of 64Cu and PET image heterogeneity between the 2 groups of mice. Ex vivo autoradiography showed that regional brain distribution of 64Cu at 24 h after injection did not correlate with amyloid-β plaque distribution in TASTPM mice. Conclusion: The trafficking of 64Cu in the brain after administration of 64Cu-GTSM is significantly altered by AD-like pathology in the TASTPM mouse model, suggesting that 64Cu-GTSM PET imaging warrants clinical evaluation as a diagnostic tool for AD and possibly other neurodegenerative disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-114
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number1
Early online date8 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • copper trafficking
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • positron emission tomography
  • Cu-64


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