Cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme is responsible for the formation of important biological mediators including prostaglandins, prostacyclin and thromboxane to trigger many physiological and patho-physiological responses. COXs exist in two distinct isoforms, a constitutively expressed form (COX-1) and an inducible form (COX-2). COX-2 is involved in the body's response to inflammation and pain. Moreover, it has also been shown that COX-2 is overexpressed in many human cancers, and that COX-2 is involved in various neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. COX-2 inhibitors are among the most widely used therapeutics for the treatment of chronic and acute pain and inflammation. Non-invasive monitoring of COX-2 functional expression by means of nuclear molecular imaging techniques like positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) might provide unique opportunities to obtain data on COX-2 expression levels during disease manifestation and progression to study potential roles of COX-2 under various pathological conditions. The present review summarizes recent research efforts directed to the design and synthesis of radiotracers as molecular probes with special emphasis on COX-2 imaging.
- Molecular imaging
- Positron emission tomography
- Single photon emission computed tomography