Amino acids such as [(11)C-methyl]l-methionine are particularly useful in brain tumor diagnosis, but unspecific uptake (e.g., in cerebral ischemia) has been reported. O-(2-[(18)F]fluoroethyl)-l-tyrosine ([(18)F]FET) shows a clinical potential similar to that of l-methionine (MET) in brain tumor diagnosis but is applicable on a wider clinical scale. The aim of this study was to evaluate the uptake of [(18)F]FET and [(3)H]MET in focal cortical ischemia in rats by dual-tracer autoradiography.
Methods: Focal cortical ischemia was induced in 25 CDF rats using the photothrombosis (PT) model. At different time points up to 6 weeks after the induction of PT, [(18)F]FET and [(3)H]MET were injected intravenously. Additionally, contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed in 10 animals. One hour after tracer injection, brains were cut in coronal sections and evaluated by dual-tracer autoradiography. Lesion-to-brain (L/B) ratios were calculated by dividing the maximal uptake in the lesion by the mean uptake in the brain. An L/B ratio of >2.0 was considered indicative of pathological uptake. Histological slices were stained by cresyl violet and supplemented by immunostainings for glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and CD68 in selected cases.
Results: A variably increased uptake of both tracers was observed in the PT lesion and its demarcation zone up to 7 days after PT for [(18)F]FET and up to 6 weeks for [(3)H]MET. The cutoff level of 2.0 was exceeded in 12/25 animals for [(18)F]FET and in 18/25 animals for [(3)H]MET. Focally increased tracer uptake matched contrast enhancement in MRI in 3/10 cases for [(18)F]FET and in 5/10 cases for [(3)H]MET. Immunohistochemical staining in lesions with differential uptake of [(18)F]FET and [(3)H]MET revealed that selective uptake of [(18)F]FET was associated with GFAP-positive astrogliosis while selective [(3)H]MET uptake correlated with CD68-positive macrophage infiltration.
Conclusions: [(18)F]FET, like [(3)H]MET, may exhibit significant uptake in the periphery of cortical infarctions, which has to be considered in the differential diagnosis of unknown brain lesions. There are discrepancies between [(18)F]FET and [(3)H]MET uptake in the area of infarctions that appear to be caused by the preferential uptake of [(18)F]FET in reactive astrocytes versus the preferential uptake of [(3)H]MET in macrophages.