Objective: With the established computed tomographic (CT)- morphologic parameters, only the relative, but not the individual rupture risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), can be determined. So far, increased aortic 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) metabolism measured by positron emission tomography (PET) has been reported in AAA with increased rupture risk. The aim of the study was to analyze the histopathologic changes in AAA wall correlated with increased FDG uptake for further implications on aortic wall stability and AAA rupture risk.
Methods: Fifteen patients with asymptomatic (n = 12) and symptomatic (n = 3) AAA underwent FDG-PET/CT, followed by open AAA repair. FDG-PET/CT was used for precise localization of maximum FDG uptake, and the maximum standard uptake values (SUV(max)) were calculated. Biopsies of the AAA wall were operatively collected from areas with maximum FDG uptake, immunohistologically stained, and semiquantitatively analyzed for inflammatory infiltrates, vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and -9 expression, as well as for elastin and collagenous fibers.
Results: Symptomatic AAA showed significantly increased FDG uptake compared with asymptomatic AAA (SUV(max), 3.5 +/- 0.6 vs 7.5 +/- 3; P < .001). Thus, increased FDG uptake was correlated with higher densities of inflammatory infiltrates (r = +0.87, P < .01) and macrophage and T-cell infiltrations (r = +0.95, P < .01 and r = +0.66, P < .05), with higher MMP-9 expressions (r = +0.86; P < .01), and with reduction of collagen fiber (r = -0.76; P < .01) and VSMCs (r = -0.71; P < .01). Consecutive correlations were found for total inflammatory infiltrates, T lymphocytes, and macrophages with MMP-9 expression (r = +0.79, +0.79 and +0.74; P < .01). Moreover, MMP-9 expression was correlated with decreasing collagen fiber content (r = -0.53, P < .05) and VSMC density (r = -0.57, P < .05).
Conclusions: Maximum aortic FDG uptake correlated significantly with inflammation, followed by increased MMP expression and histopathologic characteristics of aneurysm wall instability and clinical symptoms. Therefore, FDG-PET/CT might be a new diagnostic technique to study AAA disease in vivo and may contribute to improve prediction of individual AAA rupture risk.