Scientific publications

[18F]-DPA-714 PET as a specific in vivo marker of early microglial activation in a rat model of progressive dopaminergic degeneration

Mar 23, 2020 | Magazine: European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

Rodríguez-Chinchilla T (1,2), Quiroga-Varela A (1,2,3), Molinet-Dronda F (4), Belloso-Iguerategui A (1), Merino-Galan L (1,5), Jimenez-Urbieta H (6), Gago B (7), Rodriguez-Oroz MC (8,9,10,11,12,13).


To study the feasibility of the in vivo [18F]-DPA-714 TSPO positron emission tomography (PET) to detect glial activation in a rat model of progressive parkinsonism induced by viral-mediated overexpression of A53T mutated human α-synuclein (hα-syn) in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc).


We conducted a cross-sectional study in a model of progressive parkinsonism. Bilateral intranigral injections with 2/9 adeno-associated viral vectors encoding either hα-syn (AAV-hα-syn) or green fluorescent protein (AAV-GFP) were performed in rats (n = 60). In vivo [18F]-DPA-714 PET imaging was performed at different time points after inoculation (p.i.) of the viral vector (24 and 72 h and 1, 2, 3, and 16 weeks).

Images were analyzed to compute values of binding potential (BP) in the SNpc and striatum using a volume of interest (VOI) analysis. Immunohistochemistry of markers of dopaminergic degeneration (tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)), microglia (Iba-1), and astrocytes (GFAP) was carried out. Binding potential (BP) of [18F]-DPA-714 PET in the in vivo PET study was correlated with post-mortem histological markers.


In the SNpc of AAV-hα-syn rats, there was higher in vivo [18F]-DPA-714 BP (p < 0.05) and increased number of post-mortem Iba-1+ cells (p < 0.05) from second week p.i. onwards, which were highly correlated (p < 0.05) between each other. These findings antedated the nigral reduction of TH+ cells that occurs since third week p.i. (p < 0.01).

In addition, the [18F]-DPA-714 BP was inversely correlated (p < 0.05) with the TH+ cells. In contrast, GFAP+ cells only increased at 16 weeks p.i. and did not correlate with the in vivo results. In the striatum, no changes in the number of Iba-1+ and GFAP+ cells were observed, but an increment in the [18F]-DPA-714 BP was found at 16 weeks p.i.


Our study showed that in vivo PET study with [18F]-DPA-714 is a selective and reliable biomarker of microglial activation and could be used to study preclinical stages of Parkinson's disease (PD) and to monitor the progression of the disease.

CITATION  Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2020 Mar 23. doi: 10.1007/s00259-020-04772-4

Our authors

Arancha Belloso Iguerategui
Laboratory technician Neuroscience Research Program