Phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4) is one of the main enzymes that specifically terminate the action of cAMP, thereby contributing to intracellular signaling following stimulation of various G protein-coupled receptors. PDE4 expression and activity are modulated by agents affecting cAMP levels. The selective PDE4 inhibitor (R)-rolipram labeled with C-11 was tested in vivo in rats to analyze changes in PDE4 levels following drug treatments that increase synaptic noradrenaline (NA), serotonin (5HT), histamine (HA) and dopamine (DA) levels. We hypothesized that increasing synaptic neurotransmitter levels and subsequent cAMP-mediated signaling would significantly enhance (R)-[(11)C]rolipram retention and specific binding to PDE4 in vivo. Pre-treatments were performed 3 h prior to tracer injection, and rats were sacrificed 45 min later. Biodistribution studies revealed a dose-dependent increase in (R)-[(11)C]rolipram uptake following administration of the monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor tranylcypromine, NA and 5HT reuptake inhibitors (desipramine [DMI], maprotiline; and fluoxetine, sertraline, respectively), and the HA H(3) receptor antagonist (thioperamide), but not with DA transporter blockers GBR 12909, cocaine or DA D(1) agonist SKF81297. Significant increases in rat brain and heart reflect changes in PDE4 specific binding (total-non-specific binding [coinjection with saturating dose of (R)-rolipram]). These results demonstrate that acute treatments elevating synaptic NA, 5HT and HA, but not DA levels, significantly enhance (R)-[(11)C]rolipram binding. Use of (R)-[(11)C]rolipram and positron emission tomography as an index of PDE4 activity could provide insight into understanding disease states with altered NA, 5HT and HA concentrations.