Take a look

89Zr labeled long lived GLP-1 receptor agonist

Synthesis and Evaluation of Zirconium-89 Labelled and Long-Lived GLP-1 Receptor Agonists for PET Imaging

Christian Borch Jacobsen, René Raavé, Marie Østergaard Pedersen, Pierre Adumeau, Mathieu Moreau, Ibai Valverde, Inga Bjørnsdottir, Jesper Bøggild Kristensen, Mette Finderup Grove, Kirsten Raun, James McGuire, Victor Goncalves, Sandra Heskamp, Franck Denat, Magnus Gustafsson

Nuclear Medicine and Biology 2019 Dec 4. doi: 10.1016/j.nucmedbio.2019.11.006.



Lately, zirconium-89 has shown great promise as a radionuclide for PET applications of long circulating biomolecules. Here, the design and synthesis of protracted and long-lived GLP-1 receptor agonists conjugated to desferrioxamine and labelled with zirconium-89 is presented with the purpose of studying their in vivo distribution by PET imaging. The labelled conjugates were evaluated and compared to a non-labelled GLP-1 receptor agonist in both in vitro and in vivo assays to certify that the modification did not significantly alter the peptides' structure or function. Finally, the zirconium-89 labelled peptides were employed in PET imaging, providing visual verification of their in vivo biodistribution.


The evaluation of the radiolabelled peptides and comparison to their non-labelled parent peptide was performed by in vitro assays measuring binding and agonistic potency to the GLP-1 receptor, physicochemical studies aiming at elucidating change in peptide structure upon bioconjugation and labelling as well as an in vivo food in-take study illustrating the compounds' pharmacodynamic properties. The biodistribution of the labelled GLP-1 analogues was determined by ex vivo biodistribution and in vivo PET imaging.


The results indicate that it is surprisingly feasible to design and synthesize a protracted, zirconium-89 labelled GLP-1 receptor agonist without losing in vitro potency or affinity as compared to a non-labelled parent peptide. Physicochemical properties as well as pharmacodynamic properties are also maintained. The biodistribution in rats show high accumulation of radiolabelled peptide in well-perfused organs such as the liver, kidney, heart and lungs. The PET imaging study confirmed the findings from the biodistribution study with a significant high uptake in kidneys and presence of activity in liver, heart and larger blood vessels.

Conclusions and advances in knowledge

This initial study indicates the potential to monitor the in vivo distribution of long-circulating incretin hormones using zirconium-89 based PET.