Imaging the PCP site of the NMDA ion channel

Nucl Med Biol. 2003 Nov;30(8):869-78. doi: 10.1016/s0969-8051(03)00127-6.


The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) ion channel plays a role in neuroprotection, neurodegeneration, long-term potentiation, memory, and cognition. It is implicated in the pathophysiology of several neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders including Parkinson's Disease, Huntington's Chorea, schizophrenia, alcoholism and stroke. The development of effective radiotracers for the study of NMDA receptors is critical for our understanding of their function, and their modulation by endogenous substances or therapeutic drugs. Since the NMDA/PCP receptor lies within the channel, it is a unique target and is theoretically accessible only when the channel is in the active and "open" state, but not when it is in the inactive or "closed" state. The physical location of the NMDA/PCP receptor not only makes it an important imaging target but also complicates the development of suitable PET and SPECT radiotracers for this site. An intimate understanding of the biochemical, pharmacological, physiological and behavioral processes associated with the NMDA ion channel is essential to develop improved imaging agents. This review outlines progress made towards the development of radiolabeled agents for PCP sites of the NMDA ion channel. In addition, the animal and pharmacological models used for in vitro and in vivo assessment of NMDA receptor targeted agents are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Humans
  • Radioisotopes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacokinetics
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Phencyclidine / metabolism*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods


  • Radioisotopes
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Receptors, Phencyclidine