PET reporter systems for the brain

Trends Neurosci. 2023 Nov;46(11):941-952. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2023.08.007. Epub 2023 Sep 19.


Positron emission tomography (PET) can be used as a noninvasive method to longitudinally monitor and quantify the expression of proteins in the brain in vivo. It can be used to monitor changes in biomarkers of mental health disorders, and to assess therapeutic interventions such as stem cell and molecular genetic therapies. The utility of PET monitoring depends on the availability of a radiotracer with good central nervous system (CNS) penetration and high selectivity for the target protein. This review evaluates existing methods for the visualization of reporter proteins and/or protein function using PET imaging, focusing on engineered systems, and discusses possible approaches for future success in the development of high-sensitivity and high-specificity PET reporter systems for the brain.

Keywords: PET imaging; PET tracer; central nervous system; gene therapies; reporter probes; stem cell therapies.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Brain* / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain* / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Humans
  • Positron-Emission Tomography* / methods