Recent advances in radiotracers targeting norepinephrine transporter: structural development and radiolabeling improvements

Xinyu Chen, Takashi Kudo, Constantin Lapa, Andreas Buck, Takahiro Higuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The norepinephrine transporter (NET) is a major target for the evaluation of the cardiac sympathetic nerve system in patients with heart failure and Parkinson's disease. It is also used in the therapeutic applications against certain types of neuroendocrine tumors, as exemplified by the clinically used 123/131I-MIBG as theranostic single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) agent. With the development of more advanced positron emission tomography (PET) technology, more radiotracers targeting NET have been reported, with superior temporal and spatial resolutions, along with the possibility of functional and kinetic analysis. More recently, fluorine-18-labelled NET tracers have drawn increasing attentions from researchers, due to their longer radiological half-life relative to carbon-11 (110 min vs. 20 min), reduced dependence on on-site cyclotrons, and flexibility in the design of novel tracer structures. In the heart, certain NET tracers provide integral diagnostic information on sympathetic innervation and the nerve status. In the central nervous system, such radiotracers can reveal NET distribution and density in pathological conditions. Most radiotracers targeting cardiac NET-function for the cardiac application consistent of derivatives of either norepinephrine or MIBG with its benzylguanidine core structure, e.g. 11C-HED and 18F-LMI1195. In contrast, all NET tracers used in central nervous system applications are derived from clinically used antidepressants. Lastly, possible applications of NET as selective tracers over organic cation transporters (OCTs) in the kidneys and other organs controlled by sympathetic nervous system will also be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-873
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Antidepressant
  • Benzylguanidine
  • Norepinephrine transporter
  • Organic cation transporter
  • Phenethylguanidine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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