Quantitation of cardiac sympathetic innervation in rabbits using 11C-hydroxyephedrine PET: relation to 123I-MIBG uptake

Yusuke Nomura, Ichiro Matsunari, Hiroyuki Takamatsu, Yoshihiro Murakami, Takahiro Matsuya, Junichi Taki, Kenichi Nakajima, Stephan G Nekolla, Wei-Ping Chen, Kouji Kajinami
European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 2006, 33 (8): 871-8

PURPOSE: Although (11)C-hydroxyephedrine ((11)C-HED) PET is used to map cardiac sympathetic innervation, no studies have shown the feasibility of quantitation of (11)C-HED PET in small- to medium-sized animals. Furthermore, its relation to (123)I-MIBG uptake, the most widely used sympathetic nervous tracer, is unknown. The aims of this study were to establish in vivo sympathetic nerve imaging in rabbits using (11)C-HED PET, and to compare the retention of (11)C-HED with that of (123)I-MIBG.

METHODS: Twelve rabbits were assigned to three groups; control (n=4), chemical denervation by 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) (n=4) and reserpine treated to inhibit vesicular uptake (n=4). After simultaneous injection of (11)C-HED and (123)I-MIBG, all animals underwent dynamic (11)C-HED PET for 40 min with arterial blood sampling. The (11)C-HED retention fraction and normalised (11)C-HED activity measured by tissue sampling were compared with those measured by PET.

RESULTS: Both the (11)C-HED retention fraction and the normalised (11)C-HED activity measured by PET correlated closely with those measured by tissue sampling (R=0.96027, p<0.001 and R=0.97282, p<0.001, respectively). Inhibition study by 6-OHDA resulted in a significant reduction in retention (90%) for both (11)C-HED and (123)I-MIBG. Reserpine pretreatment reduced (11)C-HED retention by 50%, but did not reduce (123)I-MIBG retention at 40 min after injection.

CONCLUSION: Non-invasive quantitation of cardiac sympathetic innervation using (11)C-HED PET is feasible and gives reliable estimates of cardiac sympathetic innervation in rabbits. Additionally, although both (11)C-HED and (123)I-MIBG are specific for sympathetic neurons, (11)C-HED may be more specific for intravesicular uptake than (123)I-MIBG in some situations, such as that seen in reserpine pretreatment.

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