Imaging Butyrylcholinesterase in Multiple Sclerosis

M W D Thorne, M K Cash, G A Reid, D E Burley, D Luke, I R Pottie, S Darvesh
Molecular Imaging and Biology: MIB: the Official Publication of the Academy of Molecular Imaging 2020 September 14

PURPOSE: Molecular imaging agents targeting butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) have shown promise in other neurodegenerative disorders and may have utility in detecting changes to normal appearing white matter in multiple sclerosis (MS). BChE activity is present in white matter and localizes to activated microglia associated with MS lesions. The purpose of this study was to further characterize changes in the cholinergic system in MS pathology, and to explore the utility of BChE radioligands as potential diagnostic and treatment monitoring agents in MS.

PROCEDURE: Cortical and white matter lesions were identified using myelin staining, and lesions were classified based on microglial activation patterns. Adjacent brain sections were used for cholinesterase histochemistry and in vitro autoradiography using phenyl 4-[123 I]-iodophenylcarbamate (123 I-PIP), a previously described small-molecule cholinesterase-binding radioligand.

RESULTS: BChE activity is positively correlated with microglial activation in white matter MS lesions. There is no alteration in cholinesterase activity in cortical MS lesions. 123 I-PIP autoradiography revealed uptake of radioactivity in normal white matter, absence of radioactivity within demyelinated MS lesions, and variable uptake of radioactivity in adjacent normal-appearing white matter.

CONCLUSIONS: BChE imaging agents have the potential to detect MS lesions and subtle pathology in normal-appearing white matter in postmortem MS brain tissue. The possibility of BChE imaging agents serving to supplement current diagnostic and treatment monitoring strategies should be evaluated.

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