Non-invasive kinetic modelling approaches for quantitative analysis of brain PET studies

Chris W.J. van der Weijden, Pascalle Mossel, Anna L. Bartels, Rudi A.J.O. Dierckx, Gert Luurtsema, Adriaan A. Lammertsma, Antoon T.M. Willemsen, Erik F.J. de Vries*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Pharmacokinetic modelling with arterial sampling is the gold standard for analysing dynamic PET data of the brain. However, the invasive character of arterial sampling prevents its widespread clinical application. Several methods have been developed to avoid arterial sampling, in particular reference region methods. Unfortunately, for some tracers or diseases, no suitable reference region can be defined. For these cases, other potentially non-invasive approaches have been proposed: (1) a population based input function (PBIF), (2) an image derived input function (IDIF), or (3) simultaneous estimation of the input function (SIME). This systematic review aims to assess the correspondence of these non-invasive methods with the gold standard. Studies comparing non-invasive pharmacokinetic modelling methods with the current gold standard methods using an input function derived from arterial blood samples were retrieved from PubMed/MEDLINE (until December 2021). Correlation measurements were extracted from the studies. The search yielded 30 studies that correlated outcome parameters (VT, DVR, or BPND for reversible tracers; Ki or CMRglu for irreversible tracers) from a potentially non-invasive method with those obtained from modelling using an arterial input function. Some studies provided similar results for PBIF, IDIF, and SIME-based methods as for modelling with an arterial input function (R2 = 0.59–1.00, R2 = 0.71–1.00, R2 = 0.56–0.96, respectively), if the non-invasive input curve was calibrated with arterial blood samples. Even when the non-invasive input curve was calibrated with venous blood samples or when no calibration was applied, moderate to good correlations were reported, especially for the IDIF and SIME (R2 = 0.71–1.00 and R2 = 0.36–0.96, respectively). Overall, this systematic review illustrates that non-invasive methods to generate an input function are still in their infancy. Yet, IDIF and SIME performed well, not only with arterial blood calibration, but also with venous or no blood calibration, especially for some tracers without plasma metabolites, which would potentially make these methods better suited for clinical application. However, these methods should still be properly validated for each individual tracer and application before implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1636–1650
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Arterial input function
  • Image derived input function
  • Population-based input function
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Simultaneous estimation of the input function

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