Aims: The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of a new positron emission tomography (PET) imaging approach using an (18)F-labelled alpha(v)beta(3) integrin antagonist ((18)F-Galacto-RGD) to monitor the integrin expression after myocardial infarction.
Methods and results: Male Wister rats were subjected to 20 min transient left coronary artery occlusion followed by reperfusion. Autoradiographic analysis and in vivo PET imaging were used to determine myocardial (18)F-Galacto-RGD uptake at different time points following reperfusion.
Results: PET imaging and autoradiography demonstrated no significant focal myocardial (18)F-Galacto-RGD uptake in non-operated control rats and at day 1 after reperfusion. However, focal accumulation in the infarct area started at day 3 (uptake ratio = 1.91 +/- 0.22 vs. remote myocardium), peaked between 1 (3.43 +/- 0.57) and 3 weeks (3.43 +/- 0.95), and decreased to 1.96 +/- 0.40 at 6 months after reperfusion. Pretreatment with alpha(v)beta(3) integrin antagonist c(-RGDfV-) significantly decreased tracer uptake, indicating the specificity of tracer uptake. The time course of focal tracer uptake paralleled vascular density as measured by CD31 immunohistochemical analysis.
Conclusion: Regional (18)F-Galacto-RGD accumulation suggests up-regulation of alpha(v)beta(3) integrin expression after myocardial infarction, which peaks between 1 and 3 weeks and remains detectable until 6 months after reperfusion. This new PET tracer is promising for the monitoring of myocardial repair processes.