Current diabetes reports 19 (8) 49 [2019-06-27; online 2019-06-27]
Quantitative markers for beta-cell mass (BCM) in human pancreas are currently lacking. Medical imaging using positron emission tomography (PET) markers for beta-cell restricted targets may provide an accurate and non-invasive measurement of BCM, to assist diagnosis and treatment of metabolic disease. GPR44 was recently discovered as a putative marker for beta cells and this review summarizes the developments so far. Several small molecule binders targeting GPR44 have been radiolabeled for PET imaging and evaluated in vitro and in small and large animal models. 11C-AZ12204657 and 11C-MK-7246 displayed a dose-dependent and GPR44-mediated binding to beta cells both in vitro and in vivo, with negligible uptake in exocrine pancreas. GPR44 represents an attractive target for visualization of BCM. Further progress in radioligand development including clinical testing is expected to clarify the role of GPR44 as a surrogate marker for BCM in humans.