Imaging Intraplaque Inflammation in Carotid Atherosclerosis With 18F-Fluorocholine Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography: Prospective Study on Vulnerable Atheroma With Immunohistochemical Validation
SourceCirculation-Cardiovascular Imaging, 9, 5, (2016), article pii: e004467
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 3: Disorders of movement DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
BACKGROUND: (18)F-fluorocholine ((18)F-FCH) uptake is associated with cell proliferation and activity in tumor patients. We hypothesized that (18)F-FCH could similarly be a valuable imaging tool to identify vulnerable plaques and associated intraplaque inflammation and atheroma cell proliferation. METHODS AND RESULTS: Ten consecutive stroke patients (90% men, median age 66.5 years, range, 59.4-69.7) with ipsilateral >70% carotid artery stenosis and who underwent carotid endarterectomy were included in the study. Before carotid endarterectomy, all patients underwent positron emission tomography to assess maximum (18)F-FCH uptake in ipsilateral symptomatic carotid plaques and contralateral asymptomatic carotid arteries, which was corrected for background activity, resulting in a maximum target-to-background ratio (TBRmax). Macrophage content was assessed in all carotid endarterectomy specimens as a percentage of CD68(+)-staining per whole plaque area (plaqueCD68(+)) and as a maximum CD68(+) percentage (maxCD68(+)) in the most inflamed section/plaque. Dynamic positron emission tomography imaging demonstrated that an interval of 10 minutes between (18)F-FCH injection and positron emission tomography acquisition is appropriate for carotid plaque imaging. TBRmax in ipsilateral symptomatic carotid plaques correlated significantly with plaqueCD68(+) (Spearman's rho=0.648, P=0.043) and maxCD68(+) (rho=0.721, P=0.019) in the 10 corresponding carotid endarterectomy specimens. TBRmax was significantly higher (P=0.047) in ipsilateral symptomatic carotid plaques (median: 2.0; interquartile range [Q1-Q3], 1.5-2.5) compared with the contralateral asymptomatic carotid arteries (median: 1.4; Q1-Q3, 1.3-1.6). TBRmax was not significantly correlated to carotid artery stenosis (rho=0.506, P=0.135). CONCLUSIONS: In vivo uptake of (18)F-FCH in human carotid atherosclerotic plaques correlated strongly with degree of macrophage infiltration and recent symptoms, thus (18)F-FCH positron emission tomography is a promising tool for the evaluation of vulnerable plaques. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT01899014.
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