PET Imaging Studies

Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging is a valuable tool in neuroscience and oncology research studies to measure brain functionality and metabolism and is increasingly being used as a preclinical endpoint to predict clinical success. Increasingly, PET is also used to monitor metabolic activity in brain tumors. PET imaging can be performed with CT to get combined data on radioligand accumulation and anatomic localization. Additionally, PET imaging using custom PET tracers can also be combined with SPECT imaging that employs gamma ray emitting isotopes.

Charles River’s expertise with small animal imaging and associated ex vivo techniques, provide a comprehensive state-of-the-art toolkit to evaluate the pathophysiology and drug effects in animal models of neurological disease. Access to a cyclotron in close vicinity is used to produce short-lived positron-emitting isotopes suitable for PET imaging. In addition, arterial input function (AIF) can be generated to quantify target area concentration that is normalized to cumulative arterial radioligand concentration from the time of injection until the end of the scan.

PET tracers such as 18F-FDG are used to perform preclinical PET imaging. Different PET tracers are used for various study types - for example, radiolabeled FDG is used to study brain metabolism, neuroinflammation is measured using radioactively labeled TSPO PET ligand. Diverse and customizable PET tracers are available at Charles River to investigate various cellular events including GPCR activation, receptor occupancy, brain perfusion etc. PET imaging is widely used to study neuroinflammation, glucose metabolism and other physiological processes in various neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.


We validate targets, study drug candidates, and develop custom PET ligands. Noninvasive testing methods like PET imaging are easily combined with behavioral and biochemical readouts to provide translational preclinical data to support more optimally designed clinical trials that include PET imaging as a readout.

Imaging scans of a Parkinson’s disease model (MPTP) that shows the reduction of dopamine transporter levels - seen as a reduction in red and yellow image intensity.

Figure 1: Imaging of reduction of dopamine transporter (DAT) levels in the MPTP model of Parkinson’s disease using the PET ligand 18F-FE-PE2I

Cumulative data showing reduction of dopamine transporter levels in a Parkinson’s disease mouse model. The statistically significant reduction is seen across multiple animals.

Figure 2: Chart data of reduction of dopamine transporter (DAT) levels in the MPTP model of Parkinson’s disease using the PET ligand 18F-FE-PE2I

PET Imaging FAQs