Cell proliferation detected using [18F]FLT PET/CT as an early marker of abdominal aortic aneurysm

Richa Gandhi, Christopher Cawthorne, Lucinda J.L. Craggs, John D. Wright, Juozas Domarkas, Ping He, Joanna Koch-Paszkowski, Michael Shires, Andrew F. Scarsbrook, Stephen J. Archibald, Charalampos Tsoumpas*, Marc A. Bailey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a focal aortic dilatation progressing towards rupture. Non-invasive AAA-associated cell proliferation biomarkers are not yet established. We investigated the feasibility of the cell proliferation radiotracer, fluorine-18-fluorothymidine ([18F]FLT) with positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) in a progressive pre-clinical AAA model (angiotensin II, AngII infusion).

Methods and Results: Fourteen-week-old apolipoprotein E-knockout (ApoE−/−) mice received saline or AngII via osmotic mini-pumps for 14 (n = 7 and 5, respectively) or 28 (n = 3 and 4, respectively) days and underwent 90-minute dynamic [18F]FLT PET/CT. Organs were harvested from independent cohorts for gamma counting, ultrasound scanning, and western blotting. [18F]FLT uptake was significantly greater in 14- (n = 5) and 28-day (n = 3) AAA than in saline control aortae (n = 5) (P < 0.001), which reduced between days 14 and 28. Whole-organ gamma counting confirmed greater [18F]FLT uptake in 14-day AAA (n = 9) compared to saline-infused aortae (n = 4) (P < 0.05), correlating positively with aortic volume (r = 0.71, P < 0.01). Fourteen-day AAA tissue showed increased expression of thymidine kinase-1, equilibrative nucleoside transporter (ENT)-1, ENT-2, concentrative nucleoside transporter (CNT)-1, and CNT-3 than 28-day AAA and saline control tissues (n = 3 each) (all P < 0.001).

Conclusions: [18F]FLT uptake is increased during the active growth phase of the AAA model compared to saline control mice and late-stage AAA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1961-1971
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nuclear Cardiology
Early online date18-Nov-2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2021
Externally publishedYes


  • aneurysms
  • molecular imaging
  • PET
  • pre-clinical imaging
  • Vascular biology
  • vascular imaging

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