Recent Advances and Clinical Applications of PET Cardiac Autonomic Nervous System Imaging

Nabil E Boutagy, Albert J Sinusas
Current Cardiology Reports 2017, 19 (4): 33

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The purpose of this review was to summarize current advances in positron emission tomography (PET) cardiac autonomic nervous system (ANS) imaging, with a specific focus on clinical applications of novel and established tracers.

RECENT FINDINGS: [11 C]-Meta-hydroxyephedrine (HED) has provided useful information in evaluation of normal and pathological cardiovascular function. Recently, [11 C]-HED PET imaging was able to predict lethal arrhythmias, sudden cardiac death (SCD), and all-cause mortality in heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). In addition, initial [11 C]-HED PET imaging studies have shown the potential of this agent in elucidating the relationship between impaired cardiac sympathetic nervous system (SNS) innervation and the severity of diastolic dysfunction in HF patients with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) and in predicting the response to cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) in HFrEF patients. Longer half-life 18 F-labeled presynaptic SNS tracers (e.g., [18 F]-LMI1195) have been developed to facilitate clinical imaging, although no PET radiotracers that target the ANS have gained wide clinical use in the cardiovascular system. Although the use of parasympathetic nervous system radiotracers in cardiac imaging is limited, the novel tracer, [11 C]-donepezil, has shown potential utility in initial studies. Many ANS radioligands have been synthesized for PET cardiac imaging, but to date, the most clinically relevant PET tracer has been [11 C]-HED. Recent studies have shown the utility of [11 C]-HED in relevant clinical issues, such as in the elusive clinical syndrome of HFpEF. Conversely, tracers that target cardiac PNS innervation have been used less clinically, but novel tracers show potential utility for future work. The future application of [11 C]-HED and newly designed 18 F-labeled tracers for targeting the ANS hold promise for the evaluation and management of a wide range of cardiovascular diseases, including the prognostication of patients with HFpEF.

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