Simultaneous PET-MRI: a new approach for functional and morphological imaging

Nat Med. 2008 Apr;14(4):459-65. doi: 10.1038/nm1700. Epub 2008 Mar 23.


Noninvasive imaging at the molecular level is an emerging field in biomedical research. This paper introduces a new technology synergizing two leading imaging methodologies: positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Although the value of PET lies in its high-sensitivity tracking of biomarkers in vivo, it lacks resolving morphology. MRI has lower sensitivity, but produces high soft-tissue contrast and provides spectroscopic information and functional MRI (fMRI). We have developed a three-dimensional animal PET scanner that is built into a 7-T MRI. Our evaluations show that both modalities preserve their functionality, even when operated isochronously. With this combined imaging system, we simultaneously acquired functional and morphological PET-MRI data from living mice. PET-MRI provides a powerful tool for studying biology and pathology in preclinical research and has great potential for clinical applications. Combining fMRI and spectroscopy with PET paves the way for a new perspective in molecular imaging.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colonic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colonic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / instrumentation
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / statistics & numerical data
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins