In vivo imaging of apoptosis by 99mTc-Annexin V scintigraphy: visual analysis in relation to treatment response

Radiother Oncol. 2004 Sep;72(3):333-9. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2004.07.008.


Background and purpose: Anticancer therapy induces apoptosis in a dose- and time-dependent fashion. (99m)Tc-Hynic-rh-Annexin V scintigraphy (TAVS) enables non-invasive in vivo imaging of treatment-induced apoptosis. We identified the visual patterns of (99m)Tc-Hynic-rh-Annexin V tumour uptake and related these to treatment response.

Patients and methods: Thirty-three patients with malignant lymphoma (n=26), leukaemia (n=1) NSCLC (n=5), H&NSCC (n=1), scheduled for radiotherapy (n=27), platinum-based chemotherapy (n=5) or concurrent chemoradiation (n=1), underwent TAVS before and early after the start of treatment. Planar and SPECT images were visually examined to assess changes in tumour (99m)Tc-Hynic-rh-Annexin V uptake. Twenty-nine patients were eligible for further analysis. Annexin V uptake before (U(baseline)) and early after (U(post)) the start of treatment was graded using a four-step scale: 0, absent; 1, weak; 2, moderate and 3, intense. The difference between these values (Delta U) was calculated and correlated to tumour response after therapy (Spearman rank correlation test).

Results: Weak to moderate U(baseline) was detected in 13/15 patients with a complete response and U(post) was markedly increased in all these cases (Delta U range 1-3). Partial response (n=7) was associated with weak to moderate U(baseline) and a moderately increased U(post) (Delta U range 1-2). In patients with stable disease (n=5), U(baseline) was predominantly weak, without considerable changes in uptake after the start of treatment (Delta U range 0-1). Finally, in case of progressive disease (n=2), either no tumour uptake or a decrease in U(post) was detected (Delta U=-1). A statistically significant correlation was found between changes in (99m)Tc-Hynic-rh-Annexin V tumour uptake and clinical response (correlation coefficient=0.62; P<0.001).

Conclusions: Complete or partial tumour response was associated with a marked increase of (99m)Tc Hynic-rh-Annexin V accumulation early during treatment compared to baseline values. In case of stable or progressive disease, pretreatment scans demonstrated predominantly low (99m)Tc Hynic-rh-Annexin V tumour uptake and no significant increase early after treatment. These results indicate that TAVS might be useful as a predictive test for treatment response.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Annexin A5*
  • Apoptosis*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Organotechnetium Compounds*
  • Radionuclide Imaging


  • Annexin A5
  • Organotechnetium Compounds
  • technetium Tc 99m annexin V