[1-11C]-Butanol Positron Emission Tomography reveals an impaired brain to nasal turbinates pathway in aging amyloid positive subjects

Fluids Barriers CNS. 2024 Apr 2;21(1):30. doi: 10.1186/s12987-024-00530-y.


Background: Reduced clearance of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) has been suggested as a pathological feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD). With extensive documentation in non-human mammals and contradictory human neuroimaging data it remains unknown whether the nasal mucosa is a CSF drainage site in humans. Here, we used dynamic PET with [1-11C]-Butanol, a highly permeable radiotracer with no appreciable brain binding, to test the hypothesis that tracer drainage from the nasal pathway reflects CSF drainage from brain. As a test of the hypothesis, we examined whether brain and nasal fluid drainage times were correlated and affected by brain amyloid.

Methods: 24 cognitively normal subjects (≥ 65 years) were dynamically PET imaged for 60 min. using [1-11C]-Butanol. Imaging with either [11C]-PiB or [18F]-FBB identified 8 amyloid PET positive (Aβ+) and 16 Aβ- subjects. MRI-determined regions of interest (ROI) included: the carotid artery, the lateral orbitofrontal (LOF) brain, the cribriform plate, and an All-turbinate region comprised of the superior, middle, and inferior turbinates. The bilateral temporalis muscle and jugular veins served as control regions. Regional time-activity were used to model tracer influx, egress, and AUC.

Results: LOF and All-turbinate 60 min AUC were positively associated, thus suggesting a connection between the brain and the nose. Further, the Aβ+ subgroup demonstrated impaired tracer kinetics, marked by reduced tracer influx and slower egress.

Conclusion: The data show that tracer kinetics for brain and nasal turbinates are related to each other and both reflect the amyloid status of the brain. As such, these data add to evidence that the nasal pathway is a potential CSF drainage site in humans. These data warrant further investigation of brain and nasal contributions to protein clearance in neurodegenerative disease.

Keywords: Aging; Alzheimer Disease; Amyloid PET; CSF clearance; Cribriform plate; Dynamic PET; Glymphatic; Nasal turbinates; [1-11 C]-Butanol.

MeSH terms

  • 1-Butanol / metabolism
  • Aging
  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Butanols / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases* / metabolism
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Thiazoles / metabolism
  • Turbinates / metabolism
  • Turbinates / pathology


  • Butanols
  • Thiazoles
  • 1-Butanol
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides