Cinthya Aguero 1 , 2 , Maeva Dhaynaut 3 , 4 , Marc D. Normandin 3 , Ana C. Amaral 1 , 2 , Nicolas J. Guehl 3 , Ramesh Neelamegam 3 , Marta Marquie 1 , 2 , Keith A. Johnson 5 , Georges El Fakhri 3 , Matthew P. Frosch 2 , 6 , Teresa Gomez-Isla , 1 , 2
11 March 2019
[F-18]-MK-6240, a novel tau positron emission tomography (PET) tracer recently discovered for the in vivo detection of neurofibrillary tangles, has the potential to improve diagnostic accuracy in the detection of Alzheimer disease. We have examined regional and substrate-specific binding patterns as well as possible off-target binding of this tracer on human brain tissue to advance towards its validation. We applied [F-18]-MK-6240 phosphor screen and high resolution autoradiography to postmortem samples from patients with a definite pathological diagnosis of Alzheimer disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration-tau (Pick’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy and corticobasal degeneration), chronic traumatic encephalopathy, frontotemporal lobar degeneration-Tar DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43), dementia with Lewy bodies, cerebral amyloid angiopathy and elderly controls free of pathologic changes of neurodegenerative disease. We also directly compared the binding properties of [F-18]-MK-6240 and [F-18]-AV-1451 in human tissue, and examined potential nonspecific binding of both tau tracers to monoamine oxidases (MAO) by using autoradiography in the presence of selective monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) and monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) inhibitors. Our data indicate that MK-6240 strongly binds to neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer disease but does not seem to bind to a significant extent to tau aggregates in non-Alzheimer tauopathies, suggesting that it may have a limited utility for the in vivo detection of these pathologies. There is no evidence of binding to lesions containing β-amyloid, α-synuclein or TDP-43. In addition, we identified MK-6240 strong off-target binding to neuromelanin and melanin-containing cells, and some weaker binding to areas of hemorrhage. These binding patterns are nearly identical to those previously reported by our group and others for [F-18]-AV-1451. Of note, [F-18]-MK-6240 and [F-18]-AV-1451 autoradiographic binding signals were only weakly displaced by competing concentrations of selective MAO-B inhibitor deprenyl but not by MAO-A inhibitor clorgyline, suggesting that MAO enzymes do not appear to be a significant binding target of any of these two tracers. Together these novel findings provide relevant insights for the correct interpretation of in vivo [F-18]-MK-6240 PET imaging.