Barium-131 is a single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)-compatible radionuclide for nuclear medicine and a promising diagnostic match for radium-223/-224. Herein, we report on the sufficient production route 133Cs(p,3n)131Ba by using 27.5 MeV proton beams. An average of 190 MBq barium-131 per irradiation was obtained. The SR Resin-based purification process led to barium-131 in high radiochemical purity. An isotopic impurity of 0.01% barium-133 was detectable. For the first time, radiolabeling of the ligand macropa with barium-131 was performed. Radiolabeling methods under mild conditions and reaction controls based on TLC systems were successfully applied. Small animal SPECT/ computed tomography (CT) measurements and biodistribution studies were performed using [131Ba]Ba(NO3)2 as reference and 131Ba-labeled macropa in healthy mice for the first time. Biodistribution studies revealed the expected rapid bone uptake of [131Ba]Ba2+, whereas 131Ba-labeled macropa showed a fast clearance from the blood, thereby showing a significantly (p < 0.001) lower accumulation in the bone. We conclude that barium-131 is a promising SPECT radionuclide and delivers appropriate imaging qualities in small animals. Furthermore, the relative stability of the 131Ba-labeled macropa complex in vivo forms the basis for the development of sufficient new chelators, especially for radium isotopes. Thereby, barium-131 will attain its goal as a diagnostic match to the alpha emitters radium-223 and radium-224.
Keywords: barium-131; cyclotron production; macropa; radionuclide separation; small animal SPECT.