Molecular imaging of Alzheimer's disease-related gamma-secretase in mice and nonhuman primates

J Exp Med. 2020 Dec 7;217(12):e20182266. doi: 10.1084/jem.20182266.


The pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is primarily driven by brain accumulation of the amyloid-β-42 (Aβ42) peptide generated from the amyloid-β precursor protein (APP) via cleavages by β- and γ-secretase. γ-Secretase is a prime drug target for AD; however, its brain regional expression and distribution remain largely unknown. Here, we are aimed at developing molecular imaging tools for visualizing γ-secretase. We used our recently developed γ-secretase modulators (GSMs) and synthesized our GSM-based imaging agent, [11C]SGSM-15606. We subsequently performed molecular imaging in rodents, including AD transgenic animals, and macaques, which revealed that our probe displayed good brain uptake and selectivity, stable metabolism, and appropriate kinetics and distribution for imaging γ-secretase in the brain. Interestingly, rodents and macaques shared certain brain areas with high γ-secretase expression, suggesting a functional conservation of γ-secretase. Collectively, we have provided the first molecular brain imaging of γ-secretase, which may not only accelerate our drug discovery for AD but also advance our understanding of AD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Alzheimer Disease / enzymology*
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Molecular Imaging*
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography
  • Presenilin-1 / metabolism


  • Presenilin-1
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases