The potential of the fluorine-18 labeled progestin 21-[18F]fluoro-16α-ethyl-19-norpregn-4-ene-3,20-dione ([18F]FENP) as an imaging agent for the in vivo assessment of progestin receptor (PR) positive neoplasms with positron emission tomography has been investigated. Tissue distribution studies in immature estrogen primed female rats revealed high uptake of radioactivity, expressed as the differential absorption ratio, by uterine tissue. After simultaneous administration with unlabeled FENP, a significant decrease (83%) in uterine uptake was observed 60 min after injection. Uterine uptake was highly selective. The ratio of uptake of radioactivity by uterine tissue to that by blood was 39 at 180 min. In mice bearing transplanted Grunder strain mammary carcinomas tissue, distribution studies demonstrated a selective uptake of [18F]FENP by PR positive tumors. Pretreatment with unlabeled FENP caused a significant decrease (66%) in tumor uptake. Uptake by other tissues was not affected by the presence of unlabeled progestin. The ratio of uptake of radioactivity by tumor tissue to that by blood was 4.7 at 180 min. For FENP pretreated mice and mice bearing PR negative tumors, this ratio was 1.7 and 1.1, respectively. It is concluded that the uptake of [18F]FENP by uterine and by PR positive mammary tumor tissue in vivo is primarily receptor related, presumably to the PR. Furthermore, [18F]FENP appears to be suitable for imaging of PR positive human neoplasms with positron emission tomography.

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This study was supported by a grant from the Jan Kornelis de Cock Stichting.

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