Test-retest variability of serotonin 5-HT2A receptor binding measured with positron emission tomography and [18F]altanserin in the human brain

Synapse. 1998 Dec;30(4):380-92. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2396(199812)30:4<380::AID-SYN5>3.0.CO;2-U.


The role of serotonin in CNS function and in many neuropsychiatric diseases (e.g., schizophrenia, affective disorders, degenerative dementias) support the development of a reliable measure of serotonin receptor binding in vivo in human subjects. To this end, the regional distribution and intrasubject test-retest variability of the binding of [18F]altanserin were measured as important steps in the further development of [18F]altanserin as a radiotracer for positron emission tomography (PET) studies of the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor. Two high specific activity [18F]altanserin PET studies were performed in normal control subjects (n = 8) on two separate days (2-16 days apart). Regional specific binding was assessed by distribution volume (DV), estimates that were derived using a conventional four compartment (4C) model, and the Logan graphical analysis method. For both analysis methods, levels of [18F]altanserin binding were highest in cortical areas, lower in the striatum and thalamus, and lowest in the cerebellum. Similar average differences of 13% or less were observed for the 4C model DV determined in regions with high receptor concentrations with greater variability in regions with low concentrations (16-20%). For all regions, the absolute value of the test-retest differences in the Logan DV values averaged 12% or less. The test-retest differences in the DV ratios (regional DV values normalized to the cerebellar DV) determined by both data analysis methods averaged less than 10%. The regional [18F]altanserin DV values using both of these methods were significantly correlated with literature-based values of the regional concentrations of 5-HT2A receptors determined by postmortem autoradiographic studies (r2 = 0.95, P < 0.001 for the 4C model and r2 = 0.96, P < 0.001 for the Logan method). Brain uptake studies in rats demonstrated that two different radiolabeled metabolites of [18F]altanserin (present at levels of 3-25% of the total radioactivity in human plasma 10-120 min postinjection) were able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. However, neither of these radiolabeled metabolites bound specifically to the 5-HT2A receptor and did not interfere with the interpretation of regional [18F]altanserin-specific binding parameters obtained using either a conventional 4C model or the Logan graphical analysis method. In summary, these results demonstrate that the test-retest variability of [18F]altanserin-specific binding is comparable to that of other PET radiotracers and that the regional specific binding of [18F]altanserin in human brain was correlated with the known regional distribution of 5-HT2A receptors. These findings support the usefulness of [18F]altanserin as a radioligand for PET studies of 5-HT2A receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Humans
  • Ketanserin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Ketanserin / blood
  • Ketanserin / metabolism
  • Ketanserin / pharmacokinetics
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*


  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • altanserin
  • Ketanserin