Correlation of amyloid PET ligand florbetapir F 18 binding with Aβ aggregation and neuritic plaque deposition in postmortem brain tissue

Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2012 Jan-Mar;26(1):8-16. doi: 10.1097/WAD.0b013e31821300bc.


Background: Florbetapir F 18 (F-AV-45) is a positron emission tomography imaging ligand for the detection of amyloid aggregation associated with Alzheimer disease. Earlier data showed that florbetapir F 18 binds with high affinity to β-amyloid (Aβ) plaques in human brain homogenates (Kd=3.7 nM) and has favorable imaging pharmacokinetic properties, including rapid brain penetration and washout. This study used human autopsy brain tissue to evaluate the correlation between in vitro florbetapir F 18 binding and Aβ density measured by established neuropathologic methods.

Methods: The localization and density of florbetapir F 18 binding in frozen and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded sections of postmortem brain tissue from 40 patients with a varying degree of neurodegenerative pathology was assessed by standard florbetapir F 18 autoradiography and correlated with the localization and density of Aβ identified by silver staining, thioflavin S staining, and immunohistochemistry.

Results: There were strong quantitative correlations between florbetapir F 18 tissue binding and both Aβ plaques identified by light microscopy (Silver staining and thioflavin S fluorescence) and by immunohistochemical measurements of Aβ using 3 antibodies recognizing different epitopes of the Aβ peptide. Florbetapir F 18 did not bind to neurofibrillary tangles.

Conclusions: Florbetapir F 18 selectively binds Aβ in human brain tissue. The binding intensity was quantitatively correlated with the density of Aβ plaques identified by standard neuropathologic techniques and correlated with the density of Aβ measured by immunohistochemistry. As Aβ plaques are a defining neuropathologic feature for Alzheimer disease, these results support the use of florbetapir F 18 as an amyloid positron emission tomography ligand to identify the presence of Alzheimer disease pathology in patients with signs and symptoms of progressive late-life cognitive impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Amyloid / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / analysis
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Aniline Compounds / analysis*
  • Aniline Compounds / chemistry
  • Autopsy
  • Autoradiography
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Ethylene Glycols / analysis*
  • Ethylene Glycols / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / diagnostic imaging
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / pathology
  • Plaque, Amyloid / diagnostic imaging*
  • Plaque, Amyloid / pathology
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / analysis*


  • Amyloid
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Aniline Compounds
  • Ethylene Glycols
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • florbetapir