Future Imaging of Atherosclerosis: Molecular Imaging of Coronary Atherosclerosis With (18)F Positron Emission Tomography

Atherosclerosis is characterized by the formation of complex atheroma lesions (plaques) in arteries that pose risk by their flow-limiting nature and propensity for rupture and thrombotic occlusion. It develops in the context of disturbances to lipid metabolism and immune response, with inflammation underpinning all stages of plaque formation, progression and rupture. As the primary disease process responsible for myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral vascular disease, atherosclerosis is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality on a global scale. A precise understanding of its pathogenic mechanisms is therefore critically important. Integral to this is the role of vascular wall imaging. Over recent years, the rapidly evolving field of molecular imaging has begun to revolutionize our ability to image beyond just the anatomical substrate of vascular disease, and more dynamically assess its pathobiology. Nuclear imaging by positron emission tomography (PET) can target specific molecular and biological pathways involved in atherosclerosis, with the application of (18)Fluoride PET imaging being widely studied for its potential to identify plaques that are vulnerable or high risk. In this review, we discuss the emergence of (18)Fluoride PET as a promising modality for the assessment of coronary atherosclerosis, focusing on the strengths and limitations of the two main radionuclide tracers that have been investigated to date: 2-deoxy-2-((18)F)fluoro-D-glucose ((18)F-FDG) and sodium (18)F-fluoride ((18)F-NaF). 

PMID: 27500093

Posted in Computed Tomography, Nuclear Imaging and tagged , , , , .

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