Relationship between gallium 67 citrate scanning and transferrin receptor expression in lung diseases

Chest. 1992 Aug;102(2):530-4. doi: 10.1378/chest.102.2.530.


The uptake of gallium 67 (67Ga) into cells is postulated to be through transferrin receptors (TFR) of 67Ga combined with transferrin. We studied the relationship between gallium 67 citrate scanning (67Ga scan) and immunohistochemical TFR expression in lungs of nine patients with lung cancer and eight patients with diffuse interstitial lung diseases. We found that lung cancer tissues of positive 67Ga scan expressed TFR, but those of a negative scan did not. In all of the five patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), TFR were expressed on the membrane of alveolar macrophages that formed clusters. However, TFR were not expressed in lymphocytes, neutrophils, type 2 alveolar epithelial cells, and endothelial cells. In two patients with sarcoidosis and a patient with pneumoconiosis, TFR were expressed positively only on the membrane of foamy alveolar macrophages and epithelioid cells of granuloma. These findings suggest that 67Ga-citrate initially combines with transferrin in the blood and then the complex is incorporated into cells through TFR. Therefore, 67Ga scan could be positive when cells have TFR and one should be able to observe cancer cells, clusters of alveolar macrophages, and epithelioid cells through the imaging of 67Ga scan in lung cancer and diffuse interstitial lung diseases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Citrates* / pharmacokinetics
  • Citric Acid
  • Gallium Radioisotopes* / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Receptors, Transferrin / metabolism*


  • Citrates
  • Gallium Radioisotopes
  • Receptors, Transferrin
  • Citric Acid