A comparative study of the tissue distribution of five tritium-labeled androgens was done in rats to determine the efficiency and selectivity of their uptake by target tissue. Testosterone (T), 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), 19-nortestosterone (nor-T), mibolerone (Mib) and methyltrienolone (R1881) all showed selective uptake by the ventral prostate in one-day castrated rats (250 g) that was 61-90% displaceable by co-injection of an excess of unlabeled steroid. The greatest uptake was with R1881 (0.69% injected dose per gram prostate tissue (%ID/g) at 1 h), and Mib (0.56% ID/g); the other three showed lower uptake (approx. 0.4% ID/g). The target tissue activity remained high for all compounds up to 4 h after injection, and at 2-4 h the prostate to blood ratio for Mib and R1881 exceeded 10 and 20, respectively. The uptake efficiency and selectivity of these five androgens appear to be related to their affinity for the androgen receptor and their resistance to metabolism. Mib and R1881 have substantial affinity for other steroid receptors, which might account for some of their prostate uptake. However, co-administration of triamcinolone acetonide, which has high affinity for progesterone and corticosteroid receptors but not for the androgen receptor, failed to block their uptake significantly, whereas co-administration of DHT, the most selective ligand for the androgen receptor, blocked their uptake as completely as the unlabeled tracer itself. The prostate uptake of Mib and R1881 in intact animals was significantly lower than in castrated animals, but treatment of the intact animals with diethylstilbestrol restored their uptake nearly to the level seen in castrated animals. These uptake patterns are consistent with earlier studies of in vivo androgen uptake and with known changes in androgen receptor content and occupancy as a result of castration or diethylstilbestrol treatment. They further suggest that high affinity androgens labeled with suitable radionuclides-particularly derivatives of mibolerone (Mib) or methyltrienolone (R1881)-may be effective receptor-based imaging agents for androgen target tissues and tumors, even when patients are already receiving hormonal therapy.
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