The chemistry of 99mTc-labeled radiopharmaceuticals

Semin Nucl Med. 1990 Jan;20(1):5-27. doi: 10.1016/s0001-2998(05)80173-4.


The subject of the chemistry of 99mTc-radiopharmaceuticals consists of a collection of bits and pieces of information without a unifying theme. Since the initial impetus to the field of organ imaging was provided by radiochemists, nuclear chemists, and clinician-investigators, using easily prepared 99mTc-compounds from available off-the-shelf ligands, complete chemical characterization was not carried for the 99mTc-radiopharmaceuticals and their metabolites. The influx of coordination, organic, and analytic chemists and their systematic studies clarified some of the structures of these tracers, and promoted the general synthetic methods of a variety of ligands and the corresponding 99mTc-chelates as well as understanding of the nature of their metabolites. Although major developments for organ-imaging radiopharmaceuticals had been made, future studies will result in the simplified methodology of protein-labeling, fine-tuning of the currently available radiopharmaceuticals for higher organ-extraction, and replacement of expensive 123I-labeled tracers with the corresponding 99mTc-tracers. In general, the Tc-complexes are thermodynamically less stable and kinetically more labile than the corresponding Re-complexes. The well established chemistry of Re-compounds, the similarity of Tc-chemistry to that of Re compounds, and structure-activity relationships of a few classes of 99mTc-labeled compounds, may promote the development of new generation of 99mTc-labeled radiopharmaceuticals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Kidney / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Organotechnetium Compounds* / chemical synthesis
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Technetium*


  • Organotechnetium Compounds
  • Technetium