18F-Fluoride Signal Amplification Identifies Microcalcifications Associated With Atherosclerotic Plaque Instability in Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography Images.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Microcalcifications in atherosclerotic plaques are destabilizing, predict adverse cardiovascular events, and are associated with increased morbidity and mortality.18F-fluoride positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) imaging has demonstrated promise as a useful clinical diagnostic tool in identifying high-risk plaques; however, there is confusion as to the underlying mechanism of signal amplification seen in PET-positive, CT-negative image regions. This study tested the hypothesis that 18F-fluoride PET/CT can identify early microcalcifications. METHODS:18F-fluoride signal amplification derived from microcalcifications was validated against near-infrared fluorescence molecular imaging and histology using an in vitro 3-dimensional hydrogel collagen platform, ex vivo human specimens, and a mouse model of atherosclerosis. RESULTS:Microcalcification size correlated inversely with collagen concentration. The 18F-fluoride ligand bound to microcalcifications formed by calcifying vascular smooth muscle cell derived extracellular vesicles in the in vitro 3-dimensional collagen system and exhibited an increasing signal with an increase in collagen concentration (0.25 mg/mL collagen -33.8×102±12.4×102 counts per minute; 0.5 mg/mL collagen -67.7×102±37.4×102 counts per minute; P=0.0014), suggesting amplification of the PET signal by smaller microcalcifications. We further incubated human atherosclerotic endarterectomy specimens with clinically relevant concentrations of 18F-fluoride. The 18F-fluoride ligand labeled microcalcifications in PET-positive, CT-negative regions of explanted human specimens as evidenced by 18F-fluoride PET/CT imaging, near-infrared fluorescence, and histological analysis. Additionally, the 18F-fluoride ligand identified micro and macrocalcifications in atherosclerotic aortas obtained from low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient mice. CONCLUSIONS:Our results suggest that 18F-fluoride PET signal in PET-positive, CT-negative regions of human atherosclerotic plaques is the result of developing microcalcifications, and high surface area in regions of small microcalcifications may amplify PET signal.
Project description:BACKGROUND:18F-NaF positron emission tomography (PET) targets microcalcifications. We compared in vitro microPET assessed 18F-NaF uptake between culprit and non-culprit human carotid plaques. Furthermore, we compared 18F-NaF uptake with calcification visualized on microcomputed tomography (microCT). METHODS:Carotid plaques from stroke patients undergoing surgery were incubated in 18F-NaF and scanned using a microPET and a microCT scan. The average PET assessed 18F-NaF uptake was expressed as percentage of the incubation dose per gram (%Inc/g). 18F-NaF PET volume of interest (VOI) was compared with CT calcification VOI. RESULTS:23 carotid plaques (17 culprit, 6 non-culprit) were included. The average 18F-NaF uptake in culprit carotid plaques was comparable with the uptake in non-culprit carotid plaques (median 2.32 %Inc/g [IQR 1.98 to 2.81] vs. median 2.35 %Inc/g [IQR 1.77 to 3.00], P?=?0.916). Only a median of 10% (IQR 4 to 25) of CT calcification VOI showed increased 18F-NaF uptake, while merely a median of 35% (IQR 6 to 42) of 18F-NaF PET VOI showed calcification on CT. CONCLUSIONS:18F-NaF PET represents a different stage in the calcification process than CT. We observed a similar PET assessed 18F-NaF uptake and pattern in culprit and non-culprit plaques of high-risk patients, indicating that this method may be of more value in early atherosclerotic stenosis development.
Project description:Inflammation plays an important role in the development of atherosclerosis and its complications. Because the folate receptor ? (FR-?) is selectively expressed on macrophages, an FR targeted imaging agent could be useful for assessment of atherosclerotic inflammation. We investigated aluminum fluoride-18-labeled 1,4,7-triazacyclononane-1,4,7-triacetic acid conjugated folate (18F-FOL) for the detection of atherosclerotic plaque inflammation. We studied atherosclerotic plaques in mice, rabbits, and human tissue samples using 18F-FOL positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT). Compound 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose (18F-FDG) was used as a comparison. Firstly, we found that the in vitro binding of 18F-FOL co-localized with FR-?-positive macrophages in carotid endarterectomy samples from patients with recent ischemic symptoms. We then demonstrated specific accumulation of intravenously administered 18F-FOL in atherosclerotic plaques in mice and rabbits using PET/CT. We noticed that the 18F-FOL uptake correlated with the density of macrophages in plaques and provided a target-to-background ratio as high as 18F-FDG, but with considerably lower myocardial uptake. Thus, 18F-FOL PET/CT targeting of FR-?-positive macrophages presents a promising new tool for the in vivo imaging of atherosclerotic inflammation.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:This study sought to develop an integrative positron emission tomography (PET) with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure for accurate atherosclerotic plaque phenotyping, facilitated by clinically approved and nanobody radiotracers. BACKGROUND:Noninvasive characterization of atherosclerosis remains a challenge in clinical practice. The limitations of current diagnostic methods demonstrate that, in addition to atherosclerotic plaque morphology and composition, disease activity needs to be evaluated. METHODS:We screened 3 nanobody radiotracers targeted to different biomarkers of atherosclerosis progression, namely vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1, lectin-like oxidized low-density lipoprotein receptor (LOX)-1, and macrophage mannose receptor (MMR). The nanobodies, initially radiolabeled with copper-64 (64Cu), were extensively evaluated in Apoe-/- mice and atherosclerotic rabbits using a combination of in vivo PET/MRI readouts and ex vivo radioactivity counting, autoradiography, and histological analyses. RESULTS:The 3 nanobody radiotracers accumulated in atherosclerotic plaques and displayed short circulation times due to fast renal clearance. The MMR nanobody was selected for labeling with gallium-68 (68Ga), a short-lived radioisotope with high clinical relevance, and used in an ensuing atherosclerosis progression PET/MRI study. Macrophage burden was longitudinally studied by 68Ga-MMR-PET, plaque burden by T2-weighted MRI, and neovascularization by dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) MRI. Additionally, inflammation and microcalcifications were evaluated by fluorine-18 (18F)-labeled fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) and 18F-sodium fluoride (18F-NaF) PET, respectively. We observed an increase in all the aforementioned measures as disease progressed, and the imaging signatures correlated with histopathological features. CONCLUSIONS:We have evaluated nanobody-based radiotracers in rabbits and developed an integrative PET/MRI protocol that allows noninvasive assessment of different processes relevant to atherosclerosis progression. This approach allows the multiparametric study of atherosclerosis and can aid in early stage anti-atherosclerosis drug trials.
Project description:Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of life-threatening morbidity and mortality, as the rupture of atherosclerotic plaques leads to critical atherothrombotic events such as myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke, which are the 2 most common causes of death worldwide. Vascular calcification is a complicated pathological process involved in atherosclerosis, and microcalcifications are presumed to increase the likelihood of plaque rupture. Despite many efforts to develop novel non-invasive diagnostic modalities, diagnostic techniques are still limited, especially before symptomatic presentation. From this point of view, vulnerable plaques are a direct target of atherosclerosis imaging. Anatomic imaging modalities have the limitation of only visualizing macroscopic structural changes, which occurs in later stages of disease, while molecular imaging modalities are able to detect microscopic processes and microcalcifications, which occur early in the disease process. Na[18F]-fluoride positron emission tomography/computed tomography could allow the early detection of plaque instability, which is deemed to be a primary goal in the prevention of cardiac or brain ischemic events, by quantifying the microcalcifications within vulnerable plaques and evaluating the atherosclerotic disease burden.
Project description:Coronary 18F-sodium fluoride (18F-NaF) PET identifies ruptured plaques in patients with recent myocardial infarction and localizes to atherosclerotic lesions with active calcification. Most studies to date have performed the PET acquisition 1 h after injection. Although qualitative and semiquantitative analysis is feasible with 1-h images, residual blood-pool activity often makes it difficult to discriminate plaques with 18F-NaF uptake from noise. We aimed to assess whether delayed PET performed 3 h after injection improves image quality and uptake measurements. Methods: Twenty patients (67 ± 7 y old, 55% male) with stable coronary artery disease underwent coronary CT angiography (CTA) and PET/CT both 1 h and 3 h after the injection of 266.2 ± 13.3 MBq of 18F-NaF. We compared the visual pattern of coronary uptake, maximal background (blood pool) activity, noise, SUVmax, corrected SUVmax (cSUVmax), and target-to-background (TBR) ratio in lesions defined by CTA on 1-h versus 3-h 18F-NaF PET. Results: On 1-h PET, 26 CTA lesions with 18F-NaF PET uptake were identified in 12 (60%) patients. On 3-h PET, we detected 18F-NaF PET uptake in 7 lesions that were not identified on 1-h PET. The median cSUVmax and TBRs of these lesions were 0.48 (interquartile range [IQR], 0.44-0.51) and 1.45 (IQR, 1.39-1.52), respectively, compared with -0.01 (IQR, -0.03-0.001) and 0.95 (IQR, 0.90-0.98), respectively, on 1-h PET (both P < 0.001). Across the entire cohort, 3-h PET SUVmax was similar to 1-h PET measurements (1.63 [IQR, 1.37-1.98] vs. 1.55 [IQR, 1.43-1.89], P = 0.30), and the background activity was lower (0.71 [IQR, 0.65-0.81] vs. 1.24 [IQR, 1.05-1.31], P < 0.001). On 3-h PET, TBR, cSUVmax, and noise were significantly higher (respectively: 2.30 [IQR, 1.70-2.68] vs. 1.28 [IQR, 0.98-1.56], P < 0.001; 0.38 [IQR, 0.27-0.70] vs. 0.90 [IQR, 0.64-1.17], P < 0.001; and 0.10 [IQR, 0.09-0.12] vs. 0.07 [IQR, 0.06-0.09], P = 0.02). Median cSUVmax and TBR increased by 92% (range, 33%-225%) and 80% (range, 20%-177%), respectively. Conclusion: Blood-pool activity decreases on delayed imaging, facilitating the assessment of 18F-NaF uptake in coronary plaques. Median TBR increases by 80%, leading to the detection of more plaques with significant uptake than are detected using the standard 1-h protocol. A greater than 1-h delay may improve the detection of 18F-NaF uptake in coronary artery plaques.
Project description:Since atherosclerotic plaques are small and sparse, their non-invasive detection via PET imaging requires both highly specific radiotracers as well as imaging systems with high sensitivity and resolution. This study aimed to assess the targeting and biodistribution of a novel fluorine-18 anti-VCAM-1 Nanobody (Nb), and to investigate whether sub-millimetre resolution PET imaging could improve detectability of plaques in mice. The anti-VCAM-1 Nb functionalised with the novel restrained complexing agent (RESCA) chelator was labelled with [18F]AlF with a high radiochemical yield (>75%) and radiochemical purity (>99%). Subsequently, [18F]AlF(RESCA)-cAbVCAM1-5 was injected in ApoE-/- mice, or co-injected with excess of unlabelled Nb (control group). Mice were imaged sequentially using a cross-over design on two different commercially available PET/CT systems and finally sacrificed for ex vivo analysis. Both the PET/CT images and ex vivo data showed specific uptake of [18F]AlF(RESCA)-cAbVCAM1-5 in atherosclerotic lesions. Non-specific bone uptake was also noticeable, most probably due to in vivo defluorination. Image analysis yielded higher target-to-heart and target-to-brain ratios with the ?-CUBE (MOLECUBES) PET scanner, demonstrating that preclinical detection of atherosclerotic lesions could be improved using the latest PET technology.
Project description:BACKGROUND:There is currently no consensus on the methodology for quantification of 18F-FDG uptake in inflammation in atherosclerosis. In this study, we explore different methods for quantification of 18F-FDG uptake in carotid atherosclerotic plaques and correlate the uptake values to histological assessments of inflammation. METHODS AND RESULTS:Forty-four patients with atherosclerotic stenosis ≥70% of the internal carotid artery underwent 18F-FDG PET/CT. Maximum standardized uptake values (SUVmax) from all plaque-containing slices were collected. SUVmax for the single highest and the mean of multiple slices with and without blood background correction (by subtraction (cSUV) or by division (target-to-background ratio (TBR)) were calculated. Following endarterectomy 30 plaques were assessed histologically. The length of the plaques at CT was 6-32 mm. The 18F-FDG uptake in the plaques was 1.15-2.66 for uncorrected SUVs, 1.16-3.19 for TBRs, and 0.20-1.79 for cSUVs. There were significant correlations between the different uptake values (r = 0.57-0.99, P < 0.001). Methods with and without blood background correction showed similar, moderate correlations to the amount of inflammation assessed at histology (r = 0.44-0.59, P < 0.02). CONCLUSIONS:In large stenotic carotid plaques, 18F-FDG uptake reflects the inflammatory status as assessed at histology. Increasing number of PET slices or background correction did not change the correlation.
Project description:18F-Fluoride positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) can measure disease activity and progression in aortic stenosis. Our objectives were to optimize the methodology, analysis, and scan-rescan reproducibility of aortic valve 18F-fluoride PET-CT imaging.Fifteen patients with aortic stenosis underwent repeated 18F-fluoride PET-CT. We compared nongated PET and noncontrast CT, with a modified approach that incorporated contrast CT and ECG-gated PET. We explored a range of image analysis techniques, including estimation of blood-pool activity at differing vascular sites and a most diseased segment approach. Contrast-enhanced ECG-gated PET-CT permitted localization of 18F-fluoride uptake to individual valve leaflets. Uptake was most commonly observed at sites of maximal mechanical stress: the leaflet tips and the commissures. Scan-rescan reproducibility was markedly improved using enhanced analysis techniques leading to a reduction in percentage error from ±63% to ±10% (tissue to background ratio MDS mean of 1.55, bias -0.05, limits of agreement -0·20 to +0·11).Optimized 18F-fluoride PET-CT allows reproducible localization of calcification activity to different regions of the aortic valve leaflet and commonly to areas of increased mechanical stress. This technique holds major promise in improving our understanding of the pathophysiology of aortic stenosis and as a biomarker end point in clinical trials of novel therapies.URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT02132026.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Bioprosthetic aortic valve degeneration is increasingly common, often unheralded, and can have catastrophic consequences. OBJECTIVES:The authors sought to assess whether 18F-fluoride positron emission tomography (PET)-computed tomography (CT) can detect bioprosthetic aortic valve degeneration and predict valve dysfunction. METHODS:Explanted degenerate bioprosthetic valves were examined ex vivo. Patients with bioprosthetic aortic valves were recruited into 2 cohorts with and without prosthetic valve dysfunction and underwent in vivo contrast-enhanced CT angiography, 18F-fluoride PET, and serial echocardiography during 2 years of follow-up. RESULTS:All ex vivo, degenerate bioprosthetic valves displayed 18F-fluoride PET uptake that colocalized with tissue degeneration on histology. In 71 patients without known bioprosthesis dysfunction, 14 had abnormal leaflet pathology on CT, and 24 demonstrated 18F-fluoride PET uptake (target-to-background ratio 1.55 [interquartile range (IQR): 1.44 to 1.88]). Patients with increased 18F-fluoride uptake exhibited more rapid deterioration in valve function compared with those without (annualized change in peak transvalvular velocity 0.30 [IQR: 0.13 to 0.61] vs. 0.01 [IQR: -0.05 to 0.16] ms-1/year; p < 0.001). Indeed 18F-fluoride uptake correlated with deterioration in all the conventional echocardiographic measures of valve function assessed (e.g., change in peak velocity, r = 0.72; p < 0.001). Each of the 10 patients who developed new overt bioprosthesis dysfunction during follow-up had evidence of 18F-fluoride uptake at baseline (target-to-background ratio 1.89 [IQR: 1.46 to 2.59]). On multivariable analysis, 18F-fluoride uptake was the only independent predictor of future bioprosthetic dysfunction. CONCLUSIONS:18F-fluoride PET-CT identifies subclinical bioprosthetic valve degeneration, providing powerful prediction of subsequent valvular dysfunction and highlighting patients at risk of valve failure. This technique holds major promise in the diagnosis of valvular degeneration and the surveillance of patients with bioprosthetic valves. (18F-Fluoride Assessment of Aortic Bioprosthesis Durability and Outcome [18F-FAABULOUS]; NCT02304276).
Project description:BACKGROUND:Fluorine-18-sodium fluoride (18F-NaF) uptake is a marker of active vascular calcification associated with high-risk atherosclerotic plaque. OBJECTIVES:In patients with abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), the authors assessed whether 18F-NaF positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) predicts AAA growth and clinical outcomes. METHODS:In prospective case-control (n = 20 per group) and longitudinal cohort (n = 72) studies, patients with AAA (aortic diameter >40 mm) and control subjects (aortic diameter <30 mm) underwent abdominal ultrasound, 18F-NaF PET-CT, CT angiography, and calcium scoring. Clinical endpoints were aneurysm expansion and the composite of AAA repair or rupture. RESULTS:Fluorine-18-NaF uptake was increased in AAA compared with nonaneurysmal regions within the same aorta (p = 0.004) and aortas of control subjects (p = 0.023). Histology and micro-PET-CT demonstrated that 18F-NaF uptake localized to areas of aneurysm disease and active calcification. In 72 patients within the longitudinal cohort study (mean age 73 ± 7 years, 85% men, baseline aneurysm diameter 48.8 ± 7.7 mm), there were 19 aneurysm repairs (26.4%) and 3 ruptures (4.2%) after 510 ± 196 days. Aneurysms in the highest tertile of 18F-NaF uptake expanded 2.5× more rapidly than those in the lowest tertile (3.10 [interquartile range (IQR): 2.34 to 5.92 mm/year] vs. 1.24 [IQR: 0.52 to 2.92 mm/year]; p = 0.008) and were nearly 3× as likely to experience AAA repair or rupture (15.3% vs. 5.6%; log-rank p = 0.043). CONCLUSIONS:Fluorine-18-NaF PET-CT is a novel and promising approach to the identification of disease activity in patients with AAA and is an additive predictor of aneurysm growth and future clinical events. (Sodium Fluoride Imaging of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms [SoFIA3]; NCT02229006; Magnetic Resonance Imaging [MRI] for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms to Predict Rupture or Surgery: The MA3RS Trial; ISRCTN76413758).