Imaging pulmonary inflammation with positron emission tomography: a biomarker for drug development

Mol Pharm. 2006 Sep-Oct;3(5):488-95. doi: 10.1021/mp060050w.


Methods currently used to assess lung and airway inflammation are often poorly quantitative, invasive, nonspecific, or insensitive. Positron emission tomography (PET) with [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose [18F]FDG), on the other hand, is a noninvasive, highly sensitive imaging technique that can be used to quantify pulmonary inflammation. [18F]FDG, an analogue of glucose, is taken up by the same transporters that take up glucose into the cell; therefore, [18F]FDG uptake tracks cellular glucose transport, which is highly correlated to the rate of cellular glucose metabolism. Recent studies in animal models of neutrophilic lung inflammation, as well as in patients with inflammatory lung disease, indicate that increased [18F]FDG uptake by the lungs correlates with the number of activated neutrophils recovered from the lungs. Therefore, the in vivo measurement of pulmonary glucose metabolism is a measure of neutrophil burden within the lungs. We propose that FDG-PET imaging can be used as a measurable biomarker in the development of drug therapies targeting lung inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Pneumonia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pneumonia / metabolism
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*


  • Biomarkers
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18