Study of brain uptake and biodistribution of [11C]toluene in non-human primates and mice

M. R. Gerasimov, R. A. Ferrieri, W. K. Schiffer, J. Logan, S. J. Gatley, A. N. Gifford, D. A. Alexoff, D. A. Marsteller, C. Shea, V. Garza, P. Carter, P. King, C. R. Ashby, S. Vitkun, S. L. Dewey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Inhalant abuse is a rapidly growing health problem particularly among adolescents. Yet we know little about the neural mechanisms underlying the abuse liability of inhalants, particularly when compared to other addictive drugs. Specifically, our understanding of the relationship between the regional brain pharmacokinetics and features classically associated with drug reinforcement is lacking. Under the hypothesis that the abuse liability of toluene can be related to its pharmacokinetic properties and the pattern of regional brain uptake, we developed the methodology for radiolabeling and purifying [11C]toluene for use in PET studies. Here we report the regional brain distribution and kinetics of the widely abused solvent toluene in non-human primates and the whole body biodistribution in mice. To our knowledge, this is the first reported study of the in vivo brain pharmacokinetics of labeled toluene in non-human primates. Rapid uptake of radioactivity into striatal and frontal regions was followed by rapid clearance from the brain. Concurrent findings in rodents indicate similar radiotracer kinetics, with excretion through kidneys and liver. Taken together, our data provides insight into pharmacokinetic features possibly associated with the abuse liability of toluene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2811-2828
Number of pages18
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number23
StatePublished - Apr 26 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Authors are thankful to Dr. J. Fowler for helpful discussions. We thank D. Schlyer, D. Warner and R. Carcielo for the cyclotron and PET operations. This research was carried out under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research (USDOE/OBER DE-AC02-98CH10886).


  • Biodistribution
  • Drug abuse
  • Inhalants
  • PET
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Primates

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