Head-to-head comparison of 11C-PBR28 and 11C-ER176 for quantification of the translocator protein in the human brain

  • Paolo Zanotti-FregonaraEmail author
  • Belen Pascual
  • Mattia Veronese
  • Meixiang Yu
  • David Beers
  • Stanley H. Appel
  • Joseph C. Masdeu
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Neurology



11C-ER176 is a new PET tracer to quantify the translocator protein (TSPO), a biomarker for inflammation. The aim of this study was to perform a head-to-head comparison between 11C-ER176 and the widely used 11C-PBR28.


Seven healthy volunteers had a 90-min PET scan and metabolite-corrected arterial input function with 11C-PBR28 in the morning and 11C-ER176 in the afternoon. Binding was quantified at the regional level in terms of VT with a two-tissue compartmental model. By using VND values from the literature obtained with pharmacological blockade, we derived the binding potential BPND for both tracers.


11C-ER176 was more stable in arterial blood than 11C-PBR28 (the percentages of unmetabolized parent in plasma at 90 min were 29.0 ± 8.3% and 8.8 ± 2.9% respectively). The brain time–activity curves for both tracers were well fitted by the two-tissue model, but 11C-ER176 had higher VT values than 11C-PBR28 (5.74 ± 1.54 vs 4.43 ± 1.99 ml/cm3) and a lower coefficient of variation. The BPND of 11C-ER176 was more than 4 times larger than that of 11C-PBR28 for high-affinity binders, and more than 9 times larger for mixed-affinity binders.


11C-ER176 displays a higher binding potential and a smaller variability of VT values. Thanks to these characteristics, clinical studies performed with 11C-ER176 are expected to have higher statistical power and thus require fewer subjects.


11C-PBR28 11C-ER176 TSPO PET 



This study was partially funded by the Harrison, Chao, Graham, and Nantz Funds of the Houston Methodist Foundation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

Joseph Masdeu is on a General Electric Healthcare advisory board and receives research support from GE, Eli Lilly, Biogen, Abbvie, and Novartis. The other authors declare no conflict of interest.


No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article exist.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nantz National Alzheimer Center and Houston Methodist Research Neurological Institute, and Weill Cornell MedicineHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neuroimaging, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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