Absence of early metabolic response assessed by 18F-FDG PET/CT after initiation of antifibrotic drugs in IPF patients

Benjamin Bondue, Amélie Castiaux, Gaetan Van Simaeys, Céline Mathey, Félicie Sherer, Dominique Egrise, Simon Lacroix, François Huaux, Gilles Doumont, Serge Goldman
Respiratory Research 2019 January 15, 20 (1): 10

BACKGROUND: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is characterized by a progressive and irreversible respiratory failure. Non-invasive markers of disease activity are essential for prognosis and evaluation of early response to anti-fibrotic treatments.

OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were to determine whether fluorodeoxyglucose ([18F]-FDG) lung uptake is reduced after initiation of pirfenidone or nintedanib and to assess its possible use as a prognostic factor.

METHODS: [18F]-FDG PET/CT was performed in IPF patients and in a murine model of pulmonary fibrosis. PET/CTs were performed at day 8 and day 15 post-instillation of bleomycin in pirfenidone- or vehicule-treated mice. In IPF patients, PET-CT was performed before and 3 months after the initiation of pirfenidone or nintedanib.

RESULTS: In bleomycin-treated mice, pirfenidone significantly reduced the [18F]-FDG uptake compared to vehicule-treated mice at day 15 (p < 0.001), whereas no difference was observed at day 8 after bleomycin administration. In IPF patients, [18F]-FDG lung uptake before and after 3 months of treatment by nintedanib (n = 11) or pirfenidone (n = 14) showed no significant difference regardless the antifibrotic treatment. Moreover, no difference was noticed between patients with progressive or non-progressive disease at one year of follow up.

CONCLUSIONS: Pirfenidone significantly reduces the lung [18F]-FDG uptake during the fibrotic phase in a mouse model of IPF. However, these preclinical data were not confirmed in IPF patients 3 months after the initiation of antifibrotic therapy. [18F]-FDG seems therefore not useful in clinical practice to assess the early response of IPF patients to nintedanib or pirfenidone.

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