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Neuroinflammation is Detected in Multiple Sclerosis by PET

June 14, 2016

Molecular imaging is bringing researchers closer than ever to identify the triggers of multiple sclerosis, something which has yet to be discovered. This leads us to the evaluation of next-generation therapies for MS which is what researchers said when they introduced this study at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI).

Senior investigator, Zhude Tu, PhD said, “Inflammation is the body’s physiological defense to harmful stimuli and it plays a critical role in the immune response to injury and infection.” He also stated that despite the benefits of acute inflammation in promoting healing, the same processes are associated with numerous pathological conditions when chronic inflammation is left unchecked.

A primary mechanism in the disease process, sphingolipid, was found by the study and further looked into by researchers. In 2010 fingolimod was approved by the FDA for relapsing MS, this “Further supports the hypotheses that the sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 (S1P1) is an ideal biomarker for imaging and new therapies.” Fingolimod also works by turning the autoimmune response down via the immune cell S1P1.

The first steps in the conducted research included author of the study, Adam J Rosenberd, PhD, and his colleagues producing a library of S1P1 which targeted small molecules and then radiolabeled them with fluoride-18. These radiotracers then directly bind to S1P1 receptors and are imaged with preclinical positron emission tomography (PET). This is conducted though noninvasive methodology to investigate the physiological functions of S1P1 receptors in animal models.

Rodent models of inflammatory disease and healthy controls were imaged by researchers using S1P1. The PET imaging agents were found to not only detect an increase in S1P1 expression in animals with inflammatory responses in comparison to healthy controls, but that the compounds also crossed the blood brain barrier in healthy animals. This proves to be a “significant limiting factor in the development of central nervous system drugs.”