Nordberg Translational Molecular Imaging Lab

translational molecular imaging lab


Proteinopathies are common features of neurodegenerative brain disorders and used as an umbrella term for different brain disorders, commonly leading to dementia. The proteinopathies are characterized by the accumulation or change in function of different specific proteins within or outside the neurons in the brain parenchyma, and presenting with different regional distributions in the brain.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the leading cause of dementia, is characterized by the deposition of amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and hyperphosphorylated tau protein tangles. In addition, multiple factors including the activation of astrocytes and microglia and neurovascular processes play interactive roles leading to synaptic dysfunction, brain atrophy and cognitive impairment. Many other neurodegenerative diseases, non-AD tauopathies, are pathologically characterized by the deposition of tau tangles, as well as complex factors involving other protein deposits.

AD has a long presymptomatic period during which neuropathology starts to accumulate decades before clinical onset and these processes can be quantifiable in subjects using brain imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which can be used as early biomarkers


translational molecular imaging lab

Our research group has a translational approach using in vitro and in vivo molecular brain imaging techniques, and our aim is to characterize the complex pathophysiological features of neurodegenerative diseases, with a strong focus on AD but also other proteinopathies, in order to develop new early diagnostic markers and new drug targets for early intervention in disease process.

Research group leader

Group members


We have extensive collaboration within our own department (NVS), with other departments at KI as well as other research groups at other universities in Sweden including Uppsala, Gothenburg and Stockholm. We also have strong collaboration with several foreign universities including University of Helsinki, University of Turku, University of Manchester, Indiana University School of Medicine, Denver University, Geneva university, Harvard Medical School, La Pitie Salpetriere-Charles Foix hospital, Amsterdam University, McGill University, and Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona.

Research Consortium

  • Swedish Foundation For Strategic Research (SSF): “New Biomarkers in Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Alzheimer´s disease” . Agneta Nordberg (PI), Eric Westman, Christer Halldin Karolinska Institutet (KI), Hans Ågren Royal Institute of Technology ( KTH), Bengt Långström Uppsala University (UU)
  • Swedish Research Council (VR) Dementia Platform, “Proteinopathies in neurodegenerative diseases –new imaging biomarkers and targets for new drugs”, Agneta Nordberg (PI), Christer Halldin , Per Svenningsson KI, Hans Ågren KTH, Bengt Långström UU
  • Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) AMYPAD, “Amyloid imaging to prevent Alzheimer´s disease”. Project coordinator Frederik Barkhof, University of Amsterdam. PI Stockholm( KI) Agneta Nordberg.

Research Projects

Proteinopathies in neurodegenerative disorders - new imaging biomarkers and drug targets

In vitro imaging studies

New radiolabelled PET tracers will allow further understanding of the relationship between different hallmarks of AD including Aβ plaques, tau deposits and activated astrocytes.

We perform multi-tracer binding assay studies in human postmortem brain tissue both frozen and paraffin fixed.

With the recent developments of first and second generation tau tracers, PET imaging allows us to visualize tau neuropathology and to compare tau pathology in AD and non-AD tauopathies, including corticobasal dementia, progressive supranuclear palsy, frontotemporal dementias as well as down syndrome.

We have several questions we would like to answer such as:

  • What are the newly developed tau PET tracers targeting exactly in vitro ?
  • Are there differences between sporadic AD, familial forms of AD and non-AD tauopathies ?
  • How is the spatial relationship between tau and other pathological features including Aβ plaques, activated astrocytes and synaptic density at different Braak stages in sporadic AD brains in comparison to control brains ?
  • Can we develop new PET tracers specific for alpha 7 nicotinic receptors in neurons and astrocytes?

In vivo imaging studies

In our group, we perform multi-tracer PET imaging studies in cross-sectional and longitudinal study designs, in AD as well as in non-AD dementias. Patients are recruited from the Memory Clinic, Theme Aging, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm. Research participants include individuals from known families with genetic forms (autosomal dominant forms) of AD and other non-AD dementia.

neuro invivo fluid


Multi-tracer in vivo PET studies measuring different pathological markers including Aβ and tau deposition, astrocytosis, and cerebral glucose metabolism combined with cognitive tests, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers and MRI aim to answer following questions :

  • What are the links between different regional pathological mechanisms leading to AD and non-AD dementias?
  • Are the familial forms of AD a suitable model to better understand sporadic AD?
  • Inflammation is playing a central role in AD. What is the relationship between the different proteinopathies and inflammatory processes?
  • How can we develop new PET tracers for in vivo visualizing of important hallmarks of the neurodegenerative diseases?
  • How can we bring molecular imaging into clinical practice and show its usefulness in selecting patients to certain therapies?


A translational research approach combining in vitro techniques, identifying specific molecular targets for PET tracers, and in vivo imaging will increase our understanding of different dynamics of pathophysiological events in neurodegenerative disorders, being of importance for the evaluation of outcome of disease-modifying/secondary prevention treatment strategies.

Research support

With special thanks to the following donors for the support they provide or earlier provided to our research:

  • Swedish Research Council (VR)
  • Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF)
  • Swedish Brain Foundation
  • Swedish Alzheimer foundation
  • The Stockholm County Council and Karolinska Institutet regional agreement of medical training and clinical research (ALF)
  • Karolinska institutet Foundations
  • The Dementia Foundation
  • Foundation for Old Servants
  • Gun and Bertil Stohne´s Foundation
  • Sigurd and Elsa Goljes Memorial
  • Loo and Hans Osterman Foundation
  • Tore Nilsson Foundation
  • KI Foundation for Geriatric Disease
  • KTH-SLL grant
  • Axel Linders Foundation
  • Åke Wiberg Foundation
  • The EU FW7 large-scale integrating project INMIND (
  • JPND

Selected Publications

Cryo-EM structures of amyloid-β filaments with the Arctic mutation (E22G) from human and mouse brains.

Yang Y, Zhang W, Murzin AG, Schweighauser M, Huang M, Lövestam S, et al

Acta Neuropathol. 2023 Mar;145(3):325-333.


Reactive astrogliosis: A friend or foe in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease.

Kumar A, Fontana IC, Nordberg A.

J. Neurochem. 2023 Feb;164(3):309-324.


Discriminative binding of tau PET tracers PI2620, MK6240 and RO948 in Alzheimer’s disease, corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy brains

Malarte M-L,  Gillberg P-G, Kumar A, Bogdanovic N, Lemoine L & Nordberg A.

Mol. Psychiatry, 2023; 28:1272-1283.


Alzheimer’s disease profiled by fluid and imaging markers: Tau PET best predicts cognitive decline.

Bucci M, Chiotis K & Nordberg A for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. 

Mol. Psychiatry, 2021 Oct; 26(10):5888-5898.


Astroglial tracer BU99008 detects multiple binding sites in Alzheimer's disease brain.

Kumar A, Koistinen NA, Malarte ML, Nennesmo I, Ingelsson M, Ghetti B, et al

Mol. Psychiatry. 2021 Oct;26(10):5833-5847.


A multisite analysis of the concordance between visual image interpretation and quantitative analysis of [18F]flutemetamol amyloid PET images.

Bucci M, Savitcheva I, Farrar G, Salvadó G, Collij L, Doré V, et al

Eur. J. Nucl. Med. Mol. Imaging. 2021 Jul;48(7):2183-2199.


Characterization of MK6240, a tau PET tracer, in autopsy brain tissue from Alzheimer's disease cases.

Malarte ML, Nordberg A, Lemoine L.

Eur. J. Nucl. Med. Mol. Imaging. 2021 Apr;48(4):1093-1102.


In vitro Characterization of the Regional Binding Distribution of Amyloid PET Tracer Florbetaben and the Glia Tracers Deprenyl and PK11195 in Autopsy Alzheimer's Brain Tissue.

Ni R, Röjdner J, Voytenko L, Dyrks T, Thiele A, Marutle A, Nordberg A.

J. Alzheimers. Dis. 2021 Apr;80(4):1723-1737.


Clinical impact of 18F-FDG-PET among memory clinic patients with uncertain diagnosis.

Perini G, Rodriguez-Vieitez E, Kadir A, Sala A, Savitcheva I, Nordberg A.

Eur. J. Nucl. Med. Mol. Imaging. 2021 Feb;48(2):612-622


[18F]THK5317 imaging as a tool for predicting prospective cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease.

Chiotis K, Savitcheva I, Poulakis K, Saint-Aubert L, Wall A, Antoni G, Nordberg A.

Mol Psychiatry. 2021 Oct;26(10):5875-5887.


Amyloid, tau, and astrocyte pathology in autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's disease variants: AβPParc and PSEN1DE9.

Lemoine L, Gillberg PG, Bogdanovic N, Nennesmo I, Saint-Aubert L, Viitanen M, et al

Mol. Psychiatry. 2021 Oct;26(10):5609-5619.


Cortical microstructural correlates of astrocytosis in autosomal-dominant Alzheimer disease.

Vilaplana E, Rodriguez-Vieitez E, Ferreira D, Montal V, Almkvist O, Wall A, et al

Neurology. 2020 May;94(19):e2026-e2036.


Tau PET imaging in neurodegenerative tauopathies-still a challenge.

Leuzy A, Chiotis K, Lemoine L, Gillberg PG, Almkvist O, Rodriguez-Vieitez E, Nordberg A.

Mol Psychiatry. 2019 Aug;24(8):1112-1134.


Cross-interaction of tau PET tracers with monoamine oxidase B: evidence from in silico modelling and in vivo imaging.

Murugan NA, Chiotis K, Rodriguez-Vieitez E, Lemoine L, Ågren H, Nordberg A

Eur. J. Nucl. Med. Mol. Imaging. 2019 Jun;46(6):1369-1382.


Clinical impact of [18F]flutemetamol PET among memory clinic patients with an unclear diagnosis.

Leuzy A, Savitcheva I, Chiotis K, Lilja J, Andersen P, Bogdanovic N, et al

Eur. J. Nucl. Med. Mol. Imaging. 2019 Jun;46(6):1276-1286.

Tau PET imaging in neurodegenerative tauopathies-still a challenge.
Leuzy A, Chiotis K, Lemoine L, Gillberg PG, Almkvist O, Rodriguez-Vieitez E, et al
Mol. Psychiatry 2019 Aug;24(8):1112-1134

Longitudinal tau and metabolic PET imaging in relation to novel CSF tau measures in Alzheimer's disease.
Leuzy A, Cicognola C, Chiotis K, Saint-Aubert L, Lemoine L, Andreasen N, et al
Eur. J. Nucl. Med. Mol. Imaging 2019 May;46(5):1152-1163

Dual tracer tau PET imaging reveals different molecular targets for 11C-THK5351 and 11C-PBB3 in the Alzheimer brain.
Chiotis K, Stenkrona P, Almkvist O, Stepanov V, Ferreira D, Arakawa R, et al
Eur. J. Nucl. Med. Mol. Imaging 2018 Jul;45(9):1605-1617

Longitudinal changes of tau PET imaging in relation to hypometabolism in prodromal and Alzheimer's disease dementia.
Chiotis K, Saint-Aubert L, Rodriguez-Vieitez E, Leuzy A, Almkvist O, Savitcheva I, et al
Mol. Psychiatry 2018 Jul;23(7):1666-1673

Amyloid tracers binding sites in autosomal dominant and sporadic Alzheimer's disease.
Ni R, Gillberg PG, Bogdanovic N, Viitanen M, Myllykangas L, Nennesmo I, et al
Alzheimers Dement 2017 Apr;13(4):419-430

Comparative binding properties of the tau PET tracers THK5117, THK5351, PBB3, and T807 in postmortem Alzheimer brains.
Lemoine L, Gillberg PG, Svedberg M, Stepanov V, Jia Z, Huang J, et al
Alzheimers Res Ther 2017 Dec;9(1):96

Cortical laminar tau deposits and activated astrocytes in Alzheimer's disease visualised by 3H-THK5117 and 3H-deprenyl autoradiography.
Lemoine L, Saint-Aubert L, Nennesmo I, Gillberg PG, Nordberg A
Sci Rep 2017 Apr;7():45496

Diverging longitudinal changes in astrocytosis and amyloid PET in autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease.
Rodriguez-Vieitez E, Saint-Aubert L, Carter S, Almkvist O, Farid K, Schöll M, et al
Brain 2016 Mar;139(Pt 3):922-36

Imaging in-vivo tau pathology in Alzheimer's disease with THK5317 PET in a multimodal paradigm.
Chiotis K, Saint-Aubert L, Savitcheva I, Jelic V, Andersen P, Jonasson M, et al
Eur. J. Nucl. Med. Mol. Imaging 2016 Aug;43(9):1686-99


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