Synthesis and preliminary evaluation of N-(16-18F-fluorohexadecanoyl) ethanolamine (18F-FHEA) as a PET probe of N-acylethanolamine metabolism in mouse brain

Mukesh K. Pandey, Timothy R. DeGrado, Kun Qian, Mark S. Jacobson, Clinton E. Hagen, Richard I. Duclos, S. John Gatley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


N-Acylethanolamines are lipid signaling molecules found throughout the plant and animal kingdoms. The best-known mammalian compound of this class is anandamide, Narachidonoylethanolamine, one of the endogenous ligands of cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors. Signaling by N-acylethanolamines is terminated by release of the ethanolamine moiety by hydrolyzing enzymes such as fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and N-acylethanolamine-hydrolyzing amidase (NAAA). Herein, we report the design and synthesis of N-(16-18F-fluorohexadecanoyl)- ethanolamine (18F-FHEA) as a positron emission tomography (PET) probe for imaging the activity of N-acylethanolamine hydrolyzing enzymes in the brain. Following intravenous administration of 18F-FHEA in Swiss Webster mice, 18F-FHEA was extracted from blood by the brain and underwent hydrolysis at the amide bond and incorporation of the resultant 18F-fluorofatty acid into complex lipid pools. Pretreatment of mice with the FAAH inhibitor URB-597 (1 mg/kg IP) resulted in significantly slower 18F-FHEA incorporation into lipid pools, but overall 18F concentrations in brain regions were not altered. Likewise, pretreatment with a NAAA inhibitor, (S)-N-(2-oxo-3-oxytanyl)biphenyl-4-carboxamide (30 mg/kg IV), did not significantly affect the uptake of 18F-FHEA in the brain. Although evidence was found that 18F-FHEA behaves as a substrate of FAAH in the brain, the lack of sensitivity of brain uptake kinetics to FAAH inhibition discourages its use as a metabolically trapped PET probe of N-acylethanolamine hydrolyzing enzyme activity. (Chemical Equation Presented).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-802
Number of pages10
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 17 2014


  • Endocannabinoids
  • F-FHEA
  • N-(16-F-fluorohexadecanoyl)ethanolamine
  • N-acylethanolamines
  • PET

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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