Molecular PET/CT mapping of rhACE2 distribution and quantification in organs to aid in SARS-CoV-2 targeted therapy

J Med Virol. 2023 Nov;95(11):e29221. doi: 10.1002/jmv.29221.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, poses a significant threat to public health. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a key receptor for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Recombinant human ACE2 (RhACE2), as a soluble supplement for human ACE2, can competitively block SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this study, a mouse organ in situ rhACE2 high aggregation model was constructed for the first time, and in vivo real-time positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of rhACE2 in the mouse model was performed using an ACE2-specific agent 68 Ga-HZ20. This radiotracer exhibits reliable radiochemical properties in vitro and maintains a high affinity for rhACE2 in vivo. In terms of probe uptake, 68 Ga-HZ20 showed a good target-to-nontarget ratio and was rapidly cleared from the circulatory system and excreted by the kidneys and urinary system. PET imaging with this radiotracer can noninvasively and accurately monitor the content and distribution of rhACE2 in the body, which clarifies that rhACE2 can aggregate in multiple organs, suggesting the preventive and therapeutic potential of rhACE2 for SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.

Keywords: 68Ga-HZ20; PET imaging; SARS-CoV-2; rhACE2-organ model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • Animals
  • COVID-19* / diagnostic imaging
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography
  • SARS-CoV-2*


  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A