PET allows noninvasive visualization of several physiological, neurochemical, and pharmacological processes within patients. Application of PET in the brain has been limited due to a lack of radiotracers that label specific neurons or regions. In this episode, Jacob Hooker, Mark Alberts, and Genevieve C. Van de Bittner describe the discovery and characterization of [11C]GV1-57 (Neuroflux), which specifically labels mature olfactory sensory neurons in the olfactory epithelium. This radiotracer has potential as a powerful tool for monitoring olfactory neurogenesis under both normal and disease states.
Olfactory dysfunction is broadly associated with neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases and predicts increased mortality rates in healthy individuals. Conventional measurements of olfactory health assess odor processing pathways within the brain and provide a limited understanding of primary odor detection. Quantification of the olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs), which detect odors within the nasal cavity, would provide insight into the etiology of olfactory dysfunction associated with disease and mortality. Notably, OSNs are continually replenished by adult neurogenesis in mammals, including humans, so OSN measurements are primed to provide specialized insights into neurological disease. Here, we have evaluated a PET radiotracer, [11C]GV1-57, that specifically binds mature OSNs and quantifies the mature OSN population in vivo. [11C]GV1-57 monitored native OSN population dynamics in rodents, detecting OSN generation during postnatal development and aging-associated neurodegeneration. [11C]GV1-57 additionally measured rates of neuron regeneration after acute injury and early-stage OSN deficits in a rodent tauopathy model of neurodegenerative disease. Preliminary assessment in nonhuman primates suggested maintained uptake and saturable binding of [18F]GV1-57 in primate nasal epithelium, supporting its translational potential. Future applications for GV1-57 include monitoring additional diseases or conditions associated with olfactory dysregulation, including cognitive decline, as well as monitoring effects of neuroregenerative or neuroprotective therapeutics.
Genevieve C. Van de Bittner, Misha M. Riley, Luxiang Cao, Janina Ehses, Scott P. Herrick, Emily L. Ricq, Hsiao-Ying Wey, Michael J. O’Neill, Zeshan Ahmed, Tracey K. Murray, Jaclyn E. Smith, Changning Wang, Frederick A. Schroeder, Mark W. Albers, Jacob M. Hooker