DOI: 10.1186/s41181-017-0035-7Pages: 1-10

Convergent synthesis of 13N-labelled Peptidic structures using aqueous [13N]NH3

1. School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences, King’s College London

Correspondence to:
Antony D. Gee
Tel: +44 (0) 20 718 88366




Nitrogen-13 has a 10-min half-life which places time constraints on the complexity of viable synthetic methods for its incorporation into PET imaging agents. In exploring ways to overcome this limitation, we have used the Ugi reaction to develop a rapid one-pot method for radiolabelling peptidic molecules using [13N]NH3 as a synthetic precursor.


Carrier-added [13N]NH3 (50 μL) was added to a solution of carboxylic acid, aldehyde, and isocyanide in 2,2,2-TFE (200 μL). The mixture was heated in a microwave synthesiser at 120 °C for 10 min. Reactions were analysed by radio-HPLC and radio-LCMS. Isolation of the target 13N–labelled peptidic Ugi compound was achieved via semi-preparative radio-HPLC as demonstrated for Ugi1.


Radio-HPLC analysis of each reaction confirmed the formation of radioactive products co-eluting with their respective reference standards with radiochemical yields of the crude products ranging from 11% to 23%. Two cyclic γ-lactam structures were also achieved via intra-molecular reactions. Additional radioactive by-products observed in the radio-chromatogram were identified as 13N–labelled di-imines formed from the reaction of [13N]NH3 with two isocyanide molecules. The desired 13N–labelled Ugi product was isolated using semi-preparative HPLC.


We have developed a one-pot method that opens up new routes to radiolabel complex, peptidic molecules with 13N using aqueous [13N]NH3 as a synthetic precursor.

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  • Accepted: Dec 1, 2017
  • Online: Dec 19, 2017

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